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■ 'A 


_ I 







t'\ 'M 



The Stoby of My Life 


The Wobld I Live In 

The Song of The Stone Wall 


CotyrigU 1(113 by Wkilgun. 

Helen Keller 




t t 

Garden Crrr New York 


279} ,\ 

Copyrigkt, 1007, 1910, 1913, by 


^U rights reserved, induding that qf 

translation into foreign kmgtiages, 

induding the Scandinavian 






4 . »• « 

• . • 

• , « • , 

• • 





This volume contains all hitherto uncollected 
magazine articles and addresses which seem for 
any reason worth preserving in book form. 
The second article, ^^How I became a Socialist,'^ 
was printed in the New York CaU. Briefly it 
sums up my position at the present time. Of 
the articles on blindness, some were written in 
behalf of work which has since been successfully 
started. They are, therefore, somewhat out of 
date. But I have left them unchanged because 
they record the conditions of the blind at the 
time they were written, and by no means all the 
things advocated have been attempted in all 
parts of the country. There are still States in 
which the plea of ten years ago is pertinent 




Preface vii 

The Hand of the World ,•.:.. 3 

How I Became a Socialist • • • • 18 

An Appeal to Reason ...••» SO 

The Workers' Right ...... 34 

The Modem Woman 86 

I. The Educated Woman ... 36 

n. My Lady 50 

ni. Woman and Her House . • • 66 

An Apology for Going to College ... 83 

To the New CoUege Girl 107 

A Letter to an English Woman-Suffragist 115 

How to Become a Writer 121 

Our Duties to the Blind 125 

What the Blind Can Do . . • . 141 

Preventable Blindness . . . . • • 160 

The Plain Truth ....... 173 

The Truth Again 178 

Hie Conservation of Eyesight . . . 185 





The Training of a Blind Child ... 188 

A Letter to Mark Twain .... 208 

The Heaviest Burden on the Blind . 213 

What to Do for the Blind .... 221 

The Unemployed Blind 241 

The Education of the T>etd . . ; . 247 

The Gift of Speech .251 

The Work of De L' fepee .... 255 

The Message of Swedenborg .... 259 

Christmas in the Dark 264 

A New Chime for the Christmas Bells. 274 



" The symbol, sign, and inatrumeni 
Of each soul's purpose, passion, strife. 
Of fires in which are poured and spent 
Their aU of hue, their all cf life. 

feeble, mighty human hand! 
O fragile, daurdless humxtn heart t 
The universe holds nothing planned 
With such sublime, transcendent art!'* 
— Helen Piskb Jackson. 



As I write this, I am sitting in a pleasant 
house, in a sunny, wide-windowed study filled 
with plants and flowers. Here I sit, warmly 
clad, secure against want, sure that what my 
welfare requires the world will give. Through 
these generous surroundings I feel the touch 
of a hand, invisible but potent, all-sustain- 
ing — the hand that wove my garments, the 
hand that stretched the roof over my head, 
the hand which printed the pages that I 

What is that hand which shelters me? In 
vain the winds buffet my house and hurl the 
biting cold against my windows : that hand still 
keeps me warm. What is it that I may lean 
upon it at every step I take in the dark,' and it 

*The Ameriean Magamne, Deoember» 1012. 



fails me not? I give wondering praise to the ' 
beneficent hand that ministers to my joy and 
comfort, that toils for the daily bread of all. 
I would gratefully acknowledge my debt to its 
capability and kindness. I pray that some 
hearts may heed my words about the hand of 
the world, that they may believe in the coming 
of that commonwealth in which the gyves 
shall be struck from the wrist of Labour, and 
the pulse of Production shall be strong with 

All our earthly well-being hangs upon the 
living hand of the world. Society is founded 
upon it. Its lifebeats throb in our institutions. 
Every industry, every process is wrought by a 
hand, or by a superhand — a machine whose 
mighty arm and cunning fingers the human 
hand invents and wields. The hand embodies 
its skill, projects, and multiplies itself in won- 
drous tools, and with them it spins and weaves, 
ploughs and reaps, converts clay into walls, and 
roofs our habitations with trees of the forest. 
It compels Titans of steel to heave incredible 
burdens, and commands the service of nimble 
lackeys which neither groan nor become ex- 


hausted. Communication between mind and 
mind, between writer and reader, is made 
possible by marvellous extensions of the might 
of the hand, by elaborate reduplications of the 
many-motioned fingers. I have touched one 
of those great printing-presses in which a river 
of paper flows over the types, is cut, folded, 
and piled with swift precision. Between my 
thoughts and the words which you read on this 
page a thousand hands have intervened; a him- 
dred shafts of steel have rocked to and fro, to 
and fro, in industrious rhythm. 

The hand of the world ! Think how it sends 
forth the waters where it will, to form canals 
between the seas, and binds the same seas with 
thought incorporate in arms of stone! What 
is the telegraph cable but the quick hand of the 
world extended between the nations, now men- 
acing, now clasped in brotherhood? What are 
our ships and railways but the feet of man 
made swift and strong by his hands? The 
hand captures the winds, the sim, and the light- 
nings, and despatches them upon errands of 
commerce. Before its irresistible blows moun- 
tains are beaten small as dust. Huge der- 


ricks — prehensile power magnified in digits of 
steel — rear factories and palaces, lay stone 
upon stone in our stately monuments, and 
raise cathedral spires. 

On the hand of the world are visible the 
records of biology, of history, of all human 
existence since the day of the "first thumb that 
caught the trick of thought.*' Every hand 
wears a birth-seal. By the lines of the thumb 
each of us can be identified from infancy to age. 
So by the marks on the hand of the world its 
unmistakable personality is revealed. Through 
suffering and prosperity, through periods of 
retrograde and progress, the hand keeps its 
identity. Even now, when the ceaseless ply of 
the world-shuttles is so clamorous and confused, 
when the labour of the individual is lost in the 
complexities of production, the old human hand, 
the symbol of the race, may still be discerned, 
blurred by the speed of its movements, but 
master and guide of all that whirring loom. 

Study the hand, and you shall find in it the 
true picture of man, the story of human growth, 
the measure of the world's greatness and weak- 
ness. Its courage, its steadfastness, its per- 


tinacity make all the welfare of the human race. 
Upon the trustworthiness of strong, toil-hard- 
ened hands rests the life of each and all. Every 
day thousands of people enter the railway train 
and trust their lives to the hand that grasps the 
throttle of the locomotive. Such responsibility 
kindles the imagination! But more profoimd 
is t^e thought that the destiny and the daily 
life of mankind depend upon qoimtless obscure 
hands that are never lifted up in any dramatic 
gesture to remind the world of their existence. 
In "Sartor Resartus** Carlyle expresses our 
obligation to the uncelebrated hands of the 

"Venerable to me is the hard Hand; crooked 
and coarse; wherein notwithstanding lies a cun- 
ning virtue, indef easibly royal, as of the Sceptre 
of this Planet. . . . Hardly entreated 
Brother! For us was thy back so bent, for us 
were thy straight limbs and fingers so deformed: 
thou wert our Conscript, on whom the lot fell, 
and fighting our battles wert so marred. For 
in thee, too, lay a god-created Form, but it was 
not to be unfolded; encrusted must it stand with 
the thick adhesions and defacements of Labour: 


and tliy body, like thy soul, was not to kno^ 
freedom. " 

But wherefore these deformities and deface- 
ments? Wherefore this bondage that cramps 
the soul? A million tool-hands are at our 
service, tireless and efficient, having neither 
heart nor nerve. Why do they not lift the 
burden from those bowed shoulders? Can it 
be that man is captive to his own machine, 
manacled to his own handiwork, like the convict 
chained to the prison-wall that he himself has 
built? Instruments multiply, they incorporate 
more and more of the intelligence of men; they 
not only perform coarse drudgery, but also 
imitate accurately many of the hand's most 
difficult dexterities. Still the God-created 
Form is bowed. Innumerable souls are still 
denied their freedom. Still the fighter of our 
battles is maimed and defrauded. 

Once I rejoiced when I heard of a new inven- 
tion for the comfort of man. Taught by re- 
ligion and a gentle home life, nourished with 
good books, I could not but believe that all men 
had access to the benefits of inventive genius. 
When I heard that locomotives had doubled in 


size and speed, I thought: **The food of the 
wheat-fields will come cheaper to the poor of 
the cities now," and I was glad. But flour 
costs more to-day than when I read of those 
great new engines. Why do not improved 
methods of milling and transportation improve 
the dinner of the poor? I supposed that in our 
civilization all advances benefited every man. I 
imagined that every worthy endeavour brought 
a sure reward. I had felt in my life the touch 
only of hands that uphold the weak, hands that 
are all eye and ear, charged with helpful intelli- 
gence. I believed that people made their own 
conditions, and that, if the conditions were not 
always of the best, they were at least tolerable, 
just as my infirmity was tolerable. 

As the years went by and I read more widely, 
I learned that the miseries and f ailiu'es of the 
poor are not always due to their own faults, that 
multitudes of men, for some strange reason, fail 
to share in the much-talked-of progress of the 
world. I shall never forget the pain and 
amazement which I felt when I came to examine 
the statistics of blindness, its causes, and its 
connection with other calamities that befaU 


thousands of my fellow-men. I learned how 
workmen are stricken by the machine hands 
that they are operating. It became clear to me 
that the labour-saving machine does not save 
the labourer. It saves expense and makes 
profits for the owner of the machine. The 
worker has no share in the increased production 
due to improved methods; and, what is worse, 
as the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with 
his own feather, so the hand of the world is 
wounded by its own skill. The multipotent 
machine displaces the very hand that created it. 
The productivity of the machine seems to be 
valued above the human hand; for the machine 
is often left without proper safeguards, and so 
hurts the very life it was, intended to serve. 

Step by step my investigation of blindness led 
me into the industrial world. And what a 
world it is ! How difiFerent from the world 
of my beliefs! I must face unflinchingly 
a world of facts — a world of misery and 
degradation, of blindness, crookedness, and sin, 
a world struggling against the elements, against 
the unknown, against itself. How reconcile 
this world of fact with the bright world of my 


imagining? My darkness had been filled with 
the light of intelligence, and, behold, the outer 
day-lit world was stumbling and groping in 
social blindness! At first I was most unhappy; 
but deeper study restored my confidence. By 
learning the sufferings and burdens of men, I 
became aware as never before of the life-power 
that has survived the forces of darkness, the 
power which, though never completely victo- 
rious, is continuously conquering. The very 
fact that we are still here carrying on the contest 
against the hosts of annihilation proves that on 
the whole the battle has gone for humanity. 
The world's great heart has proved equal to 
the prodigious undertaking which God set 
it. Rebuffed, but always persevering; self- 
reproached, but ever regaining faith; undaunted, 
tenacious, the heart of man labours toward 
immeasurably distant goals. Discouraged not 
by difficulties without, or the anguish of ages 
withi^, the heart listens to a secret voice that 
whispers: "Be not dismayed; in the future lies 
the Promised Land. '* 

When I think of all the wonders that the 
hand of man has wrought, I rejoice, and am 


lifted up. It seems the image and agent of ihes 
Hand that upholds us all. We are its creat- 
ures, its triumphs, remade by it in the ages 
since the birth of the race. Nothing on earth is 
so thrilling, so terrifying, as the power of our 
own hands to keep us or mar us. All that man 
does is the hand alive, the hand manifest, 
creating and destroying, itself the instrument 
of order and demolition. It moves a stone, and 
the universe undergoes a readjustment. It 
breaks a clod, and new beauty bursts forth in 
fruits and flowers, and the sea of fertility flows 
over the desert. 

With our hands we raise each other to the 
heights of knowledge and achievement, and 
with the same hands we plunge each other into 
the pit. I have stood beside a gun which they 
told me could in a few minutes destroy a town 
and all the people in it. When I learned how 
much the gun cost, I thought: "Enough 
labour is wasted on that gun to build a town full 
of clean streets and wholesome dwellings!'* 
Misguided hands that destroy their own handi- 
work and deface the image of God! Wonder- 
ful hands that wound and can bind up, that 


make sore and can heal, suffering all injuries, 
yet triumphaiLt in measureless enterprise! 
What on earth is like unto the hands in their 
possibilities of good and evil? So much creative 
power has God deputed to us that we can fash- 
ion human beings round about with strong 
sinews and noble limbs, or we can shrivel them 
up, grind living hearts and Uving hands m the 
mills of penury. This power gives me confi- 
dence. But because it is often misdirectedj 
my confidence is mingled with discontent. 

"Why is it," I asked, and turned to the 
Uterature of our day for an answer, "why is it 
that so many workers live in imspeakable 
misery?" With their hands they have builded 
great cities and they cannot be sure of a roof 
over their heads. With their hands they have 
opened mines and dragged forth with the 
strength of their bodies the buried sunshine of 
dead forests, and they are cold. They have 
gone down into the bowels of the earth for dia- 
monds and gold, and they haggle for a loaf of 
bread. With their hands they erect temple and 
palace, and their habitation is a crowded room 
in a tenement. They plough and sow and fill 


our hands with flowers while their own hands 
are full of husks. 

In bur mills, factories, and mines, human 
hands are herded together to dig, to spin, and 
to feed the machines that they have made, and 
the product of the machine is not theirs. Day 
after day naked hands, without safeguard^ 
without respite, must guide the machines under 
dangerous and imclean conditions. Day after 
day they must keep firm hold of the little that 
they grasp of life, until they are hardened, 
brutalized. Still the portent of idle hands 
grows apace, and the hand-to-hand grapple 
waxes more fierce. O pitiful blindness! O 
folly that men should allow such contradictions 
— contradictions that violate not only the 
higher justice but the plainest common sense. 
How do the hands that have achieved the 
Mauretania become so impotent that they can- 
not save themselves from drowning? How do 
our hands that have stretched railways and 
telegraphs round the world become so shortened 
that they cannot redeem themselves? 

Why is it that willing hands are denied the 
prerogative of Labour, that the hand of man 


is against man? At the bidding of a single 
hand thousands rush to produce, or hang idle. 
Amazing that hands which produce nothing 
should be exalted and jewelled with authority! 
In yonder town the textile mills are idle, and 
the people want shoes. Fifty miles away, 
in another town, the shoe factories are silent, 
and the people want clothes. Between these 
two arrested forces of production is that record 
of profits and losses called the Market. The 
buyers of clothes and shoes in the market are the 
workers themselves; but they cannot buy what 
their hands have made. Is it not unjust that 
the hands of the world are not subject to the 
will of the workers, but are driven by the blind 
force of Necessity to obey the will of the few? 
And who are these few? They are themselves 
the slaves of the Market and the victims of 

Driven by the very maladjustments that 
wound it, and enabled by its proved capacity 
for readjustment and harmony, society must 
move onward to a state in which every hand 
shall work and reap the fruits of its own en- 
deavour, no less, no more. This is the third 


world which I have discovered. From a world 
of dreams I was plunged into a world of fact, 
and thence I have emerged into a society 
which is still a dream, but rooted in the actual. 
The conunonwealth of the future is growing 
surely out of the state in which we now live. 
There will be strife, but no aimless, self-defeating 
strife. There wiU be competition, but no soul- 
destroying, hand-crippUng competition. There 
will be only honest emulation in cooperative 
effort. There will be example to instruct, 
companionship to cheer, and to lighten burdens. 
Each hand will do its part in the provision of 
food, clothing, shelter, and the other great needs 
of man, so that if poverty comes all will bear it 
alike, and if prosperity shines all will rejoice in 
its warmth. 

There have been such periods in the history 
of man. Human nature has proved itself 
capable of equal cooperation. But the early 
communist societies of whicii history tells us 
were primitive in their methods of production — 
half civilized, as we say who dare call our 
present modes of life civilization ! The coming 
age will be complex, and will relinquish nothing 


useful in the methods which it has learned in 
long struggles through tyrannies and fierce 
rivabies of possession. To the hand of the 
world belongs the best, the noblest, the most 
stupendous task, the subjection of all the forces 
of nature to the mind of man, the subjection of 
physical strength to the might of the spirit. 
We are still far from this loftiest of triumphs 
of the hand. Its forces are still to be dis- 
ciplined and organized. The limbs of the world 
must first be restored. In order that no limb 
may suflPer, and that none may keep the others 
in bondage, the will of the many must become 
self-conscious and intelligently imited. Then 
the hand — the living power of man, the hewer 
of the world — will be laid with undisputed 
sway upon the machine with which it has so 
long been confoimded. There will be abun^ 
dance for all, and no hands will cry out any 
more against the arm of the mighty. The hand 
of the world will then have achieved what it 
now obscurely symbolizes — the uplifting and 
and regeneration of the race, all that is highest, 
all that is creative, in man. 


For several months my name and Socialism 
have appeared often together in the newspapers. 
A friend tells me that I have shared the front 
pages with baseball^ Mr. Roosevelt, and the New 
York police scandal. The association does not 
make me altogether happy, but, on the whole, I 
am glad that many people are interested in 
me and in the educational achievements of my 
teacher, Mrs* Macy. Even notoriety may be 
turned to beneficent uses, and I rejoice if the 
disposition of the newspapers to record my 
activities results in bringing more often into 
their columns the word Socialism. In the 
future I hope to write about Socialism, and to 
justiljy in some measure the great amount of 
publicity which has been accorded to me and 
my opinions. So far I have written little and 
said little about the subject. I have written 

*A letter printed in the New York CaU, November 8» 1912. 



a few letters, notably one to Comrade Fred 
Warren which was printed in the Appeal to 
Reason. I have talked to some reporters, one of 
whom, Mr* Ireland, of the New York World, 
made a very flattering report and gave fully and 
fairly what I said. I have never been in 
Schenectady. I have never met Mayor Lunn. 
I have never had a letter from him, but he has 
sent kind messages to me through Mr. Macy. 
Owing to Mrs. Macy's illness, whatever plans I 
had to join the workers in Schenectady have 
been abandoned. 

On such negative and relatively insignificant 
matter have been written many editorials in the 
capitalist press and in the Socialist press. The 
clippings fill a drawer. I have not read a 
quarter of them, and I doubt if I shall ever read 
them all. If on such a small quantity of fact 
so much comment has followed, what will the 
newspapers do if I qver set to work in earnest to 
write and talk in behalf of Socialism? For the 
present I should like to make a statement of 
my position and correct some false reports and 
answer some criticisms which seem to me un- 


First — How did I become a Socialist? By 
reading. The first book I read was Wells's 
"New Worlds for Old." I read it on Mrs. 
Macy's recommendation. She was attracted 
by its imaginative quality, and hoped that its 
electric style might stimulate and inspire me. 
When she gave me the book, she was not' a 
Socialist and she is not a Socialist now. Per- 
haps she will be one before Mr. Macy and I have 
done arguing with her. 

Mr. Wells led to others. I asked for more 
books on the subject, and Mr. Macy selected 
some from his library of Socialist literature. 
He did not urge them on me. He merely com- 
plied with my request for more. I do not find 
him inclined to instruct me about Socialism; 
indeed, I have often complained to him that he 
did not talk to me about it as much as I should 

My reading has been limited and slow. I 
take a German bimonthly Socialist periodical 
printed in braille for the blind. (Our German 
Comrades are ahead of us in many respects.) 
I have also in German braille Kautsky's dis- 
cussion of the Erfurt Programme. The other 


Socialist literature that I have read has been 
spelled into my hand by a friend who comes 
three times a week to read to me whatever I 
choose to have read. The periodical which I 
have most often requested her lively fingers to 
communicate to my eager ones is the National 
Socialist. She gives the titles of the articles and 
I tell her when to read on and when to omit. 
I have also had her read to me from the Inter- 
national Socialist Review articles the titles of 
which sounded promising. Manual spelling 
takes time. It is no easy and rapid thing to 
absorb through one's fingers a book of fifty- 
thousand words on economics. But it is a 
pleasure, and one which I shall enjoy repeatedly 
until I have made myself acquainted with all 
the classic Socialist authors. 

In the light of the foregoing I wish to com- 
ment on a piece about me which was printed in 
the Common Cause and reprinted in the Live 
Issue, two anti-Socialist publications. Here is a 
quotation from that piece: 

"For twenty-five years Miss Keller's teacher 
and constant companion has been Mrs. John 
Macy, formerly of Wrentham, Mass. Both 


Mr. and Mrs, Macy are enthusiastic Marxist 
propagandists, and it is scarcely surprising that 
Miss Keller, depending upon this lifelong friend 
for her most intimate knowledge of life, should 
have imbibed such opinions." 

Mr. Macy may be an enthusiastic Marxist 
propagandist, though I am sorry to say he has 
not shown much enthusiasm in propagating his 
Marxism through my fingers. Mrs. Macy is 
not a Marxist, not a Socialist. Therefore, what 
the Common Cause says about her is not true. 
The editor must have invented that, made it out 
of whole cloth, and if that is the way his mind 
works, it is no wonder that he is opposed to 
Socialism. He has not sufficient sense of fact 
to be a Socialist or anything else intellectually 
worth while. 

Consider another quotation from the same 
article. The headline reads : 

** Schenectady Reds Are Advertising; Using 
Helen Keller, the Blind Girl, to Receive Pub- 

Then the article begins: 

"It would be difficult to imagine anything 
more pathetic than the present exploitation of 

« I 


poor Helen Keller by the Socialists of Schenec- 
tady. For weeks the party^s press agencies have 
heralded the fact that she is a Socialist, and is 
about to become a member of Schenectady's 
new Board of Public Welfare. " 

There is a chance for satirical comment on the 
phrase, "the exploitation of poor Helen Keller. '* 
But I will refrain, simply saying that I do not 
like the hypocritical sympathy of such a paper 
as the Common CatcsCy but I am glad if it knows 
what the word "exploitation** means. 

Let us come to the facts. When Mayor 
Lunn heard that I might go to Schenectady he 
proposed to the Board of Public Welfare that 
a place be kept on it for me. Nothing was 
printed about this in the Citizen^ Mayor Lunn's 
paper. Indeed, it was the intention of the 
board to say nothing about the matter until 
after I had moved to Schenectady. But the 
reporters of the capitalist press got wind of the 
plan, and one day, during Mayor Lunn's 
absence from Schenectady, the Knickerbocker 
Press of Albany made the annoimcement. It 
was telegraphed all over the country, and then 
began the real newspaper exploitation. By the 


Socialist press? No, by the capitalist press. 
The Socialist papers printed the news, and 
some of them wrote editorials of welcome. 
But the Citizen^ Mayor Lunn's paper, preserved 
silence and did not mention my name during all 
the weeks when the reporters were telephoning 
and telegraphing and asking for interviews. It 
was the capitalist press that did the exploiting. 
Why? Because ordinary newspapers care any- 
thing about Socialism? No, of course not; 
they hate it. But because I, alas, am a subject 
for newspaper gossip. We got so tired of deny- 
ing that I was in Schenectady that I began to 
dislike the reporter who first published the 

The Socialist papers, it is true, did make a 
good deal of me after the capitalist papers had 
"heralded the fact that I am a Socialist." 
But all the reporters who came to see me were 
from ordinary commercial newspapers. No 
Socialist paper, neither the CaU nor the Na-- 
tumal SodalisU ever asked me for an article. 
The editor of the Citizen hinted to Mr. Macy 
that he would like one, but he was too fine and 
considerate to ask for it point-blank» 


The New York Times did ask me for an article. 
The editor of the Times wrote assuring me that 
his paper was a valuable medium for reaching 
the public and he wanted an article from me. 
He also telegraphed asking me to send him 
an account of my plans and to outline my 
ideas of my duties as member of the Board of 
Public Welfare of Schenectady. I am glad I did 
not comply with his request, for some days later 
the Tim^s made me a social outcast beyond the 
range of its righteous sympathies. On Septem- 
ber 21st there appeared in the Times an edito- 
rial called "The Contemptible Red Flag." I 
quote two passages from it: 

f'The flag is free. But it is none the less 
detestable. It is the symbol of lawlessness 
and anarchy the world over» and as such 
is held in contempt by all right-minded per- 

sons. " 


'The bearer of a red flag may not be molested 
by the police until he commits some act which 
the red flag justifies. He deserves, however, 
always to be regarded with suspicion. By car- 
rying the symbol of lawlessness he forfeits all 
right to respect and sympathy.** 


I am no worshipper of cloth of any colour, but 
I love the red flag and what it symbolizes to me 
and other Socialists. I have a red flag hanging 
in my study, and if I could I should gladly 
march with it past the office of the Times and 
let all the reporters and photographers make 
the most of the spectacle. According to the 
inclusive condemnation of the Times I have 
forfeited all right to respect and sympathy, and 
I am to be regarded with suspicion. Yet tlie 
editor of the Timss wants me to write him an 
article! How can he trust me to write for him 
if I am a suspicious character? I hope you will 
enjoy as much as I do the bad ethics, bad logic, 
bad manners that a capitalist editor falls into 
when he tries to condemn the movement which 
is aimed at his plutocratic interests. We are 
not even entitled to sympathy, yet some of us 
can write articles that will help his paper to make 
money! Probably our opinions have the same 
sort of value to him that he would find in the 
confession of a famous murderer. We are not 
nice, but we are interesting. 

I like newspaper men. I have known many, 
and two or three editors have been among my 


most intimate friends. Moreover, the news- 
papers have been of great assistance in the work 
which we have been trying to do for the blind. 
It costs them nothing to give their aid to work 
for the blind and to other superficial charities. 
But Socialism — ah, that is a different matter! 
That goes to the root of all poverty and all 
charity. The money power behind the news- 
papers is against Socialism, and the editors, 
obedient to the hand that feeds them, will go to 
any length to put down Socialism and imder- 
mine the influence of Socialists. 

When my letter to Comrade Fred Warren 
was published in the Appeal to Reason, a friend 
of mine who writes a special department for the 
Boston Transcript made an article about it and 
the editor in chief cut it out. 

The Brooklyn Eagle says, apropos of me and 
Socialism, that Helen Keller's ^'mistakes spring 
out of the manifest limitations of her develop- 
ment. '' Some years ago I met a gentleman who 
was introduced to me as Mr. McKelway, editor 
of the Brooklyn Eagle. It was after a meeting 
that we had in New York in behalf of the blind. 
At that time the compliments he paid me were 


so generous that I blush to remember them. 
But now that I have come out for Socialism he 
reminds me and the public that I am blind and 
deaf and especially liable to error. I must have 
shrunk in intelligence during the years since I 
met him. Surely it is his turn to blush. It 
may be that deafness and blindness incline one 
toward Socialism. Marx was probably stone 
deaf and William Morris wajs blind. Morris 
painted his pictures by the sense of touch and 
designed wallpaper by the sense of smell. 

Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eaglel What an 
ungallant bird it is! Socially blind and deaf» it 
defends an intolerable system — a system that 
is the cause of much of the physical blindness 
and deafness which we are trying to prevent. 
The EagU is willing to help us prevent misery, 
provided, always provided, that we do not 
attack the industrial tyranny which supports it, 
and stops its ears, and clouds its vision. The 
EdgU and I are at war. I hate the system 
which it represents, apologizes for, and upholds. 
When it fights back, let it fight fair. Let it 
attack my ideas and oppose the aims and argu- 
ments of Socialism. It is not fair fighting or. 


good argument to remind me and others that I 
cannot see or hear. I can read. I can read 
all the Socialist books I have time for, in English, 
German, and French. If the editor of the 
Brooklyn Eagle should read some of them he 
might be a wiser man and make a better news* 
paper. If I ever contribute to the Socialist 
movement the book that I sometimes dream of/ 

I know what I shall name it: ^^ Industrial 

^^ < 

Blindness and Social Deafness. ** 


I enclose a check to be used for subscriptions 
to the Appeal to Reason. I am prompted to 
this by indignation at the unrighteous con- 
viction of the editor, Mr. Fred Warren. I 
believe that the conviction is unrighteous, 
although I have arrived at this conclusion with 
some hesitancy. For a mere woman, denied 
participation in government, must needs speak 
timidly of the mysterious mental processes of 
men, and especially of ermined judges. No 
doubt any layman would give oflPence who 
should be guilty of the indiscretion of criticising 
the decisions of a high coiui:. Still, the more 
I study Mr. Warren's case in the light of the 
Constitution of the United States, which I have 
under my fingers, the more I am persuaded 
either that I do not understand it, or that the 
judges do not. I used to honour our courts, 
which, I was told, were no respecters of persons. 

*A letter published in the Appeal to Reason li December, 1910. 



I was glad and proud in the thought of our 
noble heritage — a free law open to all children 
of the nation alike. But I have come not only 
to doubt the divine impartiality ascribed to our 
judiciary, but also to question whether our 
judges are conspicuous for simple good sense and 
fair dealing. We may be pardoned if we regard 
some of their decisions merely as human imper- 
fection, as results of our common mortality, 
dependent for their seeming iniquity upon our 
poor human prejudice and ignorance. 

Are these not the facts: Several years ago 
three oflScers of the Western Federation of 
Miners were indicted for a murder committed 
in Idaho. They were in Colorado and the 
governor of that State did not extradite them. 
They were kidnapped and brought to an Idaho 
prison. They applied to the Supreme Court 
for a writ of habeas corpus, on the ground that 
they were illegally held because they had been 
illegally captured. The Supreme Court re- 
plied: **Even if it be true that the arrest and 
deportation of Pettibone, Moyer, and Haywood 
from Colorado was by fraud and connivance, 
to which the governor of Colorado was a party, 


this does not make out a case of violation of the 
rights of the appellants under the Constitution 
and the laws of the United States. " 

Some time later ex-Governor Taylor of 
Kentucky was indicted for murder and was 
wanted in his State. Mr. Warren offered a 
reward for the capture of Mr. Taylor and his 
return to the Kentucky authorities. I xmder- 
stand that it is not an unusual thing for a 
private citizen to aid in this way in the appre- 
hension of a fugitive from justice. 

To what twistings, turnings, and dark inter- 
pretation must the judges of the Circuit Court 
be driven in order to send Mr. Warren to prison ! 
As I understand it, a federal law defining the 
kind of matter which it is a crime to mail has 
been stretched to cover his act. What was the 
act? The oflfer of a reward was printed on the 
outside of envelopes mailed at Girard by Mr. 
Warren. This was construed as threatening 
because it was an encouragement to others to 
kidnap a man under indictment. This the 
Supreme Court had by implication declared to 
be an innocent act. For in the case of Petti- 
bone^ Moyer, and Haywood the accomplished 


act of kidnapping was held to be no infringe- 
ment of the rights of a citizen. 

One need not be a Socialist to realize the 
significance, the gravity, not of Mr. Warren's 
offence, but of the offence of the judges against 
the Constitution of the United States and 
against democratic rights. It is provided that, 
** Congress shall make no law . . . abridg- 
ing the freedom of speech or of the press." 
Surely this means that we are free to print 
and mail any innocent matter. What Mr. 
Warren printed and mailed had been established 
as innocent. What beam was in the eye of the 
judges of the Supreme court or what mote was 
in the eye of the justices of the circuit courts? 
It is evident that their several decisions do not 
stand in the same light. It has been my duty, 
my life work, to study physical blindness, its 
causes and its prevention. I learn that our 
physicians are making great progress in the cure 
and prevention of blindness. What surgery of 
politics, what antiseptic of common sense and 
right thinking, shall be applied to cure the blind- 


ness of our judges and id prevent the blindness 
of the people who are the court of last resort? 


I am sending the cheek which Mr. Davis 
paid me for the Christmas sentiments I $ent 
him. Will you give it to the brave girls who 
are striving so courageously to bring about 
the emancipation of the workers at Little 

They have my warmest sympathy. Their 
cause is my cause. If they are denied a 
living wage, I also am defrauded. While 
they are industrial slaves, I cannot be free. 
My hunger is not satisfied while they are 
unfed. I cannot enjoy the good things of 
life which come to me, if they are hindered 
and neglected. I want all the workers of 
the world to have sufficient money to provide 
the elements of a normal standard of living — 
a decent home, healthful surroundings, op- 
portunity for education and recreation. I 

*A letter ^tten to the striken at little Falls, N. Y., 
November, 1912. 



want them to have the same blessings that I 
have. I, deaf and blind, have been helped 
to overcome many obstacles. I want them 
to be helped as generously in a struggle which 
resembles my own in many ways. 

Surely the things that the workers demand 
are not unreasonable. It cannot be unrea- 
sonable to ask of society a fair chance for all. 
It cannot be unreasonable to demand the pro- 
tection of women and little children and an 
honest wage for all who give their time and 
energy to industrial occupations. When indeed 
shall we learn that we are all related one to 
the other, that we are all members of one body? 
Until the spirit of love for our fellowmen, 
regardless of race, colour or creed, shall fill 
the world, making real in our lives and our 
deeds the actuality of human brotherhood — 
until the great mass of the people shall be filled 
with the sense of responsibility for each other's 
welfare, social justice can never be attained. 



What I shall try to say in the following 
pages is in the nature of a composite reply 
to letters I receive from young women who 
ask my advice about the education they should 
strive for, and the use of the education they 
have. The prevailing spirit of these corre- 
spondents is an eager desire to be of service. 
Their letters are at once delightful and ap- 
palling; they fill me with mingled pride and 
timidity. They reveal an immeasurable will- 
to-serve, an incalculable soul-power waiting, 
like a mountain reservoir, to be released in 
irresistible floods of righteousness, capable, too, 
of devastating misdirection. All this power 
says to me in so many words: "Tell us what 
to do." 

*Ths Metropolitan Magazine, October, November, Decembei^ 



My sense of responsibility is lightened by 
the consideration that people do not take one's 
advice, even when it is good, and when they 
seek it. Human actions are shaped by a thou- 
sand forces stronger than the written wisdom 
of the wisest guide that ever lived. The 
best that the seers of the race discovered 
centuries ago has not, it seems, become a con- 
trolling motive even in the lives of their fol- 
lowers. If the counsel of the ages is not 
regarded, an ordinary modern cannot hope 
that his words will have much influence for 
good. But a sincere request demands a sincere 
compliance. Since my correspondents think 
that my advice may be of use to them, I 
will suggest some problems for them to study, 
that they may be better fitted for humani- 
tarian work. 

Because I am known to be interested in 
bettering the condition of the blind, many 
of my correspondents, whose hearts are stirred 
by the thought of blindness, oflfer to help their 
brothers in the dark, and they ask me how to 
begin. Of late I have found that my letters, 
in reply to those who wish to help the blind^ 


contain a paragraph about the sightless, and 
then pass to other things. I have sometimes 
wondered if my friends were not puzzled 
rather than helped by what I wrote. A class 
of college girls in an institution near great 
manufacturing cities and coal-mines asked 
me to mitiate them into philanthropic en- 
deavour for the sightless. I told them to study 
the life that swarms at their very doors — the 
miU-hands and the miners. I wonder if they 
understood. I tried to tell them what has 
been said many times, that the best educated 
human being is the one who understands 
most about the life in which he is placed, 
that the blind man, however poignantly his 
individual suffering appeals to our hearts, is 
not a single, separate person whose problem 
can be solved by itself, but a symptom of social 

That sounds discouragingly vague and cosmic. 
It may have perplexed the girls to whom I 
wrote it. They asked me how to help the 
blind, how to educate themselves so that they 
might be of use to their unf ortimate f ellowmen, 
and I offered them the universe — I gravely 


recommended that they study Industrial Eco- 
nomics. My advice to them to study the life 
that surrounds them was perhaps the only 
part of my prescription that was not para- 
doidcal. For the whole situation is paradoxical ^ 

and confused. Society is a unit; the parts 
depend on one another; one part of the world 
suffers because the rest is not right. And 
yet we can each know only a very little about 
the whole of society. Moreover, these col- 
lege girls, living in a life that I do not know, 
send their questions to me across a thousand 
miles — to me who must grope about a library 
of a few hundred books, whereas they have 
all the books of the world open to them. They 
can visit and talk with ten human beings while 
I am spelling out my intercourse with one. 

Education? How can any one who has eyes 
to see and ears to hear and leisure to read 
and study remain uneducated? Are the "ed- 
ucators'^ at fault? Ii^ there something lacking 
in those who administer the schools and col* 
leges? I wonder about these things and puzzle 
out the details of my message with increasing 


The unfortunate are not only those whose 
infirmity appeals to our sympathies by its 
visible, palpable terror — the blind, the deaf, 
the dumb, the halt, the crooked, the feeble- 
minded, the morally diseased. The imfortu- 
nate include the vast number of those who are 
destitute of the means and comforts that 
promote right hving and self^evelopment- 
The way to help the blind or any other de- 
fective class is to understand, correct, remove 
the incapacities and inequalities of our entire 
civilization. We are striving to prevent blind- 
ness. Technically we know how to prevent 
it, as technically we know how to have clean 
houses, pure food, and safe railways. So- 
cially we do not know how, socially we are 
still ignorant. Social ignorance is at the 
bottom of our miseries, and if the function of 
education is to correct ignorance, social edu- 
cation is at this hour the most important kind 
of education. 

The educated woman, then, is she who knows 
the social basis of her life, and of the lives of 
those whom she would help, her children, her 
employers, her employees, the beggar at her 


door, and her congressman at Washington. 
When Shakespeare wrote "Hamlet," or whether 
he wrote it or not, seems relatively unimportant 
compared with the question whether the 
workingwomen in your town receive a living 
wage and bear their children amid proper ^, 
surroundings. The history of our Civil War 
is incomplete, as taught in the schools, if fifty 
years afterward the daughters and grand- 
daughters of veterans do not understand such 
a simple proposition as this: ^'The woman 
who bears a child risks her life for her country." 
It is just such fundamental propositions 
related to the problems of life which school 
education seems to ignore. In school and 
college we spend a great deal of time over 
trivial matters. I cannot recall mudi that 
I learned at Radcliffe College, which now 
stands forth in my mind as of primary im- 
portance. The little economic theory that 
I learned was admirably put; but I have never 
succeeded in bringing it into harmony with 
the economic facts that I have learned since. 
The courses I took were so elementary that 
I should not presume to judge the opportuni- 


ties which Raddiff e ofifers for the study of eco- 
nomics. It simply happens, as it happens in 
the experience of many students, that such 
academic wisdom as I was privileged to share 
in did not touch the problems I met later. 

If we women are to learn the fundamental 
things in life, we must educate ourselves and 
one another. And we few who are unfairly 
called educated because we have be^i to 
college must learn much, and forget much, 
if we are not to appear as useless idlers to the 
millions of workingwomen in America. Any 
girl who goes to school can study and find out 
some of the things that an educated American^ 
woman ought to know. For instance, why 
in this land of great wealth is there great 
poverty? Any intelligent young woman like 
those who write to me, eager to help the sightless 
or any other imfortunate class, can learn why 
such important work as supplying^! ood, clothing, 
and shelter is ill-rewarded, why children toil 
in the mills while thousands of men cannot 
get work, why women who do nothing have 
thousands of dollars a year to spend. 

There is an economic cause for these things. ^ 


It is for the American woman to know why 
millions are shut out from the full benefits 
of such education, art, and science as the race 
has thus far achieved. We women have to 
face questions that men alone have evidently 
not been quite able to solve. We must know 
why a woman who owns property has no voice 
in selecting the men who make laws that affect 
her property. We must know why a woman 
who earns wages has nothing to say about 
the choice of the men who make laws that 
govern her wages. We must know why a hun- 
dred and fifty of our sisters were killed in New 
York in a shirt-waist factory fire the other day, 
and nobody to blame. We must know why 
our fathers, brothers, and husbands are killed in 
mines and on railroads. We women, who are 
natural conservationists, must find out why the 
sons we bring forth are drawn up in line and 
shot. We must organize with our more en- 
lightened brothers and declare a general strike 
against war. My father was a Confederate 
soldier, and I respect soldiers. But I grow more 
and more suspicious of the political powers that 
take men away from their work and set them 


shooting one another. Not all the military 
poems that I have read have roused in me an 
heroic desire to welcome ihy brother home with 
a buUel in his heart. We women have the 
privilege of gomg hungry while our men are in 
battle, and it is our right to be widowed and 
orphaned by political stupidity and economic 
chaos. To be sure, we are not allowed to 
vote for or against the congressman who 
declares war; but we can instruct ourselves 
unoflScially in these matters. 

Does what I mean by an educated woman 
become clearer? It ought to be clear; for all 
that I have said was said before I was bom, and 
said by men; so there can be no flaw in the 
logic. We women must educate ourselves, 
and that without delay. We cannot wait 
longer for political economists to solve such 
vital problems as clean streets, decent houses, 
warm clothes, wholesome food, living wages, 
safeguarded mines and factories, honest public 
schools. These are oiu* questions. Already 
women are speaking, and speaking nobly, and 
men are speaking with us. To be sure, some 
men and some women are speaking against us; 


but their contest is with the spirit of life. 
Lot's wife turned back; but she is an excep- 
tion. It is proverbial that women get what 
they are bent on getting, and circumstances 
are driving them toward education. 

The other day the newspapers contained 
an item which is pertinent here, since we are 
dealing with women and education. The 
Harvard Corporation has voted that it will 
not allow any halls of the university to be 
open to lectures and addresses by women, 
except when they are especially invited by the 
Corporation. There was no such rule until 
an undergraduate club asked Mrs. Fank- 
hurst to speak. Then the rule was made. 
The Corporation has a right to make such a 
rule. But why has it discriminated against 
women? An educated man is one who re- 
ceives, fosters, and contributes to the best 
thought of his time. By this definition, 
are the Harvard Corporation educated men?* 

^ince the above was writteo the Harvard Corporation has ruled 
that no one, man or woman, shall use the college lecture-halls for 
"persistent propaganda" about social, economic, political or 
religious questions. In other words, the Harvard Corporation is 
iole judge of what a lecturer shall talk about* 


Fortunately, education does not depend on 
educational institutions any more than religion 
depends on churches. Says Bacon in ^' Novum 
Organum'*: ^^In the customs and institutions 
of schools, academies, and colleges, and similar 
bodies destined for the abode of learned men, 
and the cultivation of learning, everything is 
found adverse to the progress of science, for 
the lectures and exercises are there so ordered 
that to think or speculate on anything out of 
the common way can hardly occur to any man, 
and if one or two have the boldness to use any 
liberty of judgment, they must undertake the 
task all by themselves; they can have no 
advantage from the company of others. And 
if they can endure this also, they will find their 
industry and largeness of mind no slight 
hindrance to their fortune. For the studies 
of men in these places are confined and, as 
it were, imprisoned in the writings of certain 
authors, from whom, if any man dissent, he 
is straightway arraigned as a turbulent person, 
and an innovator." 

Perhaps the first lesson to be learned by us 
women who are bent, on educating ourselves 


is, that we are too docile under formal instruc- 
tion. We accept with too little question what 
the learned tell us. Reason, or whatever 
substitute heaven has given to us, does not 
stand at the door of receptivity and challenge 
what seeks admission. I am surprised to 
find that mkny champions of woman, up- 
holders of "advanced ideas/' exalt the intelli- 
gence of the so-called cultivated woman. They 
portray her as an intellectual prodigy to 
whom the wisest man would resign his library 
and his laboratory with a feeling of dismayed 
incompetence. It is not woman's intelligence 
that should be insisted upon, but her needs, 
her responsibUities, her functions. The woman 
who works for a dollar a day has as much right 
as any other human being to say what the 
conditions of her work should be. It is just 
this, I am sorry to find, which educated women 
do not always understand. They argue that 
because George Eliot wrote great novels, and 
Jeanne d'Arc led armies to victory, therefore, 
women have as much genius as men; so they 
go on and on in a course of thought which is 
beside the point. Those who argue against 


the rights to which we are plainly entitled 
do not elude the issue with more wavering un- 
certainty than we show in defending ourselves. 

I am not disposed to praise the educated 
woman, as we commonly use the term. I find 
her narrow and lacking in vision. Few women 
whom I meet take a deep interest in the im- 
portant questions of the day. They are 
bored by any problem not immediately related 
to their desires and ambitions. Their con- 
versation is trivial and erratic. They do not 
consider a subject long enough to find out 
that they know nothing about it. How seldom 
does the college girl who has tasted phi- 
losophy and studied history relate philosophy 
and the chronicles of the past to the terrific 
processes of life which are making history every 
day! Her reputed practical judgment and 
swift sympathy seem to become inoperative 
in the presence of any question that reaches 
to a wide horizon. Her mind works quickly 
so long as it follows a traditional groove. Lift 
her out of it, and she becomes inert and without 
resource. She is wanting in reflection, origi- 
nality, independence. In the face of opposi- 


tion to a private interest or a primitive instinct 
she can be courageous and vividly intelligent. 
But she retreats from general ideas as if they 
did not concern her, when in point of fact 
civilized life is comprehended in general ideas. 

Such a woman comes to the gravest respon- 
sibilities like the foolish virgins who hastened 
to the marriage with no oil in their lamps. 
She is not prepared for the battle of life. 
Before she knows it she may be in the midst 
of the fight, undisciplined and disorganized, 
struggling for all that is precious to her against 
an enemy whose position she has not recon- 
noitred. She sends her sons and daughters 
into the streets of life without the knowledge 
that protects. Ignorance gives her confidence, 
and she is fearless from want of understanding. 

It is not possible to refer a complex difficulty 
to a single cause. But it sometimes seems that 
the heaviest shackle on the wrists of delicate, 
well-nurtured women is a false notion of 
**purity and womanliness." We are taught, 
generation after generation, that purity and 
womanliness are the only weapons we need in 
the contest of life. With this shield and buck- 


ler we are assured of all possible safety in an 
essentially hard world. But the enemy does 
not play fair. « He disregards womanUness and 
purity. Women have learned this in lifelong 
suffering. Yet some of those who have suffered 
most cling to the ideal and pass it on to their 
daughters, as slaves teach their children to 
kiss their chains. About matters that affect 
our very lives we are cautioned to speak **with 
bated breath," lest we offend the proprieties 
and provoke a blushing disapprobation. The 
ideal of the trustful, pure, and ignorant woman 
is flattering and sweet to her timid soul. But 
it is not, I believe, the product of her own im- 
agination. It has grpwn up in the worshipful 
fancy of romantic man — her poet and her 
master. The time has come when woman is 
subjecting this ideal to shrewd criticism. 



All things imcomely and broken, all 

tilings worn out and old» 
The cry of a child by the roadway, 

the creak of a lumbering cart. 



The heavy steps of the ploughman 
splashing the wintry mouldy ^ 

Are wronging your image that blossoms 
a rose in the deeps of my heart. 

The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong 

too great to be told; 
I hunger to build them anew, and sit on a 

green knoll apart. 
With the earth and the sky and the water 

re-made, like a casket of gold. 
For my dreams of your image that blossoms 

a rose in the deeps of my heart. 

These beautiful verses by Mr. Yeats are 
the song of the new spirit hymning the mis- 
tress of the world. The old chivalry couched 
a lance against dragons that would devour us, 
and sang our beauty in unmeasured ecstasy. 
In some legends it proved its gallantry by 
kissing an ugly hag, and forthwith she turned 
into a lovely princess. When we were locked 
in grim dungeons, chivaby assailed the strong- 
hold and delivered us, especially if we were 
handsome and of royal blood. 

The new chivalry is dressed in working- 
clothes, and the dragons it must face are 
poverty, squalor, industrial slavery. The dis- 


tressed damsel in the moonlit tower has be- 
come the girl in the street, the woman prisoned 
in a dirty kitchen, the wage-earner in the fac- 
tory. Our champion need not fare forth 
into far countries to do wonders and attest his 
prowess. The enemy is here, everywhere — 
"all things imcomely and broken." 

Woman-worship, the central motive of song 
and legend these many centuries, has been too 
much inspired by the will to possess and too 
little by the will to serve. The modem knight 
sans TpeuT el sans reproche must learn that 
virtues ascribed to his lady to make her a more 
precious object of desire have not proved good 
working substitutes for some plainer virtues 
which he denies her after he has won his 
suit. It is but niggardly largess to bestow 
upon her so much education as will make her 
a witty, pleasant companion and then refuse 
her access to the wider knowledge of which 
man is the jealous custodian. We confess 
our incapacities. We are inconsistent and 
timid. We hand down from mother to daugh- 
ter ideals of ourselves which are not in keeping 
with our experience. We amuse our brothers 


by irreconcilable and conflicting assertions. 
Every day of our lives we justify that superior 
masculine smile which says^ ^'Just like a 
woman ! " We especially justify it by accept- 
ing the legendary ideal of us which he has 
made for his gratification. This ideal has 
tender and beautiful aspects. But it is full 
of contradictions and absurdities. It is, on 
the whole, an obstacle to justice, intervening 
darkly between the facts of life and a clear, 
honest vision. 

Men assure us that woman is an angel, but 
has not sense enough to share in the manage- 
ment of common earthly affairs. The standard 
of good sense which man has in mind is not an 
absolute standard beyond the reach of human 
attainment, but the ordinary standard of mas- 
culine achievement. Man ascribes to woman 
a mysterious short-cut method of mind known 
as **intuition," a cerebral power which guides 
all her activities from sewing on a button to 
discharging statesman's duties, as Queen of 
England. Perception, tact, sympathy, nervous 
rapidity of thought are her age-long attributes. 
But — she would abuse the ballot. Her judg- 


meat is childish, she lacks discrimination and 
balance. She is frugal, a sharp bargainer in 
the retail market, a capable partner in a little 
shop; but she is unable to figure the economy 
of spending a hundred and fifty millions for 
battleships. She excels in organizing and 
conducting philanthropic work; but it would 
be disastrous to allow her an equal voice in 
determining how much public money should 
be spent in charitable undertakings. 

I was once a member of the Massachusetts 
Commission for the Blind. We had forty 
thousand dollars of public money to spend. 
The work was so new and experimental that 
the Legislature and other officers of government 
could not know whether we were using the 
money wisely or not. There were three men on 
the commission and one other woman. She 
and I were in a safe minority, but our voice 
counted in every expenditure. The money was 
appropriated by a legislature of men as the 
result of an investigation and appeal made 
largely by women. Now note the contra- 
diction. Women were allowed to have author- 
ity in spending State money. But no woman 


had had direct voice in deciding whether or 
not the money should be appropriated at all. 
The money was collected from tax-payers, 
many of whom were women, and it was created 
in part by the labour of women wage-earners. 
Once in the hands of the State, it was beyond 
the control of woman's fine, feminine intuition, 
of her perception, her tact, her other adorable 
qualities. If a woman, unaided and triumph- 
antly irrational, should devise a situation as 
contradictory as that, the magnificent male 
would smile in condescension and say: "There 
you are! You see, women are utterly in- 

For her to answer as she might, I fear, would 
be "unladylike/* True ladies do not argue. 
They cannot argue because they are women as 
well as ladies, and lack the reasoning facul- 
ties. Moreover, argument is unseemly in 
them. It only demonstrates their proverbial 
loquacity. It is, in a word, "unladylike." 
So round and round runs the circle of thought, 
coming back always to that ideal of the lady; 
receptive, unquestioning, illogical, charming. 
While her lord sings to "Highland Mary,*' 


to "the angel in the house," to the "'phantom 
of delight," it is not gentle for her to lay her 
hand across the sweet strings and ask a plain 
question. Hers is the charm "Ho haunt, 
to startle, to waylay," but she must haunt with a 
smile, she must startle only pleasant sensations, 
she must waylay her lord's thought only when 
it is happy, never when it is errant fallacy. 

The books of the world have sung woman's 
praises and placed her a little higher than the 
angels. But the book of woman is not un- 
mixed adoration. When desire liberates his 
generosity and wakes his lyre to rapture, man 
sets her upon peaks limitlessly high, and if she 
had true modesty, she would blush with dis- 
comfort at his impetuous hyperbole. However, 
he has his hours of disillusion and takes back 
everything nice he has said. As long ago as 
when the Hebrews were making the Bible, 
when man did all the writing, if not most of the 
talking, he discovered many faults in woman and 
set them down in vigorous words. He noted 
especially her tendency to infringe upon his 
hours of wordless meditation. Saith Eccle- 
siasticus: "As the climbing up of a sandy way 


is to tlie feet of the aged, so is a wife full of 
words to a quiet man." St* Paut-says: "Let 
the woman learn in silence with all subjection, 
but I suffer not a woman to teach, or to usurp 
authority over the man, but be in silence." 

It was St. Paul who insisted on the ideal of 
celibacy which was taken up by the early 
fathers of the Roman Church. -The ancient 
Jews had felt the need of sons to make their 
tribes strong against enemies; so fruitfuhiess 
with them was a religious virtue. But the 
Koman world was densely populated, and the 
need for individual salvation was more urgent 
than the need for more people; so single blessed-* 
ness became a religious virtue among the early 
Christians. The natural obstacle to celibacy 
was woman, and the result was that she was held 
responsible for man's lapses into matrimony. 
To the more austere fathers of the chm^ch she 
seemed to be man's greatest enemy, his tempter 
and affliction, the devil's gateway, destroyer 
of God's image. This idea of her fitted well 
with the story of her misdeed in the garden of 
Eden and man's banishment from paradise, 
for which he bore her a grudge. As a wife 


she was not worshipped; but her unmarried 
state became exalted in the figure of the Virgin 
Mary. Men knelt to her and besought her 
intercession. While the spirit of the time, 
embodied in church authority, beautified the 
mother of Christ, it continued to degrade her 
sisters. They were shut up in convents and 
ordered to stay at home, to conceal their 
beauty as dangerous to the beholder. 

The ascetic ideal did not prevail in practice 
because human nature is against it. The 
church, which found in the words of St. Paul 
only a reluctant approval of marriage, finally 
took marriage under its protection and sanc- 
tified it. The romantic spirit grew up through 
the Middle Ages, and woman again became an 
object of delight and praise. But priestcraft 
and statecraft, expressions of man's attitude, 
kept her subjugated. Man was her sole 
instructor in religion, and religion compre- 
hended all that she officially learned. He 
taught her her duties, her needs, and her capaci- 
ties. He marked out for her the wavering 
line which delimited her "sphere." The chief 
content of this "sphere" was her duty to make 


him happy, to be a proper mate for him. He 
drilled her in morals, that she might not deceive 
him; he taught her obedience, that she might 
be his slave. He celebrated her in song and 
story because that celebration gave him pleas- 
ure. It was an utterance of his artistic sense. 
He made her laws, constituted himself judge, 
jury, jailer, and executioner. He had entire 
charge of her prisons and convents, of her 
house, her church, and her person. He burnt 
her, tortured her, gave her to wild beasts and 
cast her forth to be a pariah when she violated 
his property title in her. He laid down the 
measure of her knowledge, the quantity of it 
that would meet his approval. Through all 
times he granted her the privilege — of bear- 
ing his children. But once bom, they were his 
children, not hers. 

One day, when he felt especially good- 
humoured, he gave her permission to learn to 
read. ^'I wish," said Erasmus when he was 
translating the Greek Testament, "that the 
weakest women might read the Gospels and 
the Epistles of St. Paul.'' The alphabet was 
her new tree of knowledge. She had made a 


ruinous blunder at the first tree, but the fruits 
of the new tree carried no penalty, except the 
sorrow which knowledge brings to the inno- 
cent. It is likely, however, that experience 
had already taught her the full measure of 
sorrow. The beginning of literacy among 
women was the beginning of their emanci- 
pation, just as the spread of common school 
education was the beginning of democracy. 
The emancipation is not complete, and we have 
not arrived at democracy. The masters seem 
instinctively to have felt that some bars should 
be left up, some gates should be closed 
against women and against certain classes of 
men. The professions were placarded, "Dan- 
gerous. Women not admitted." Over the 
pulpit was placed the legend inherited from 
the Jewish and Roman priesthood, "Womatn, 
be silent." 

As late as the nineteenth century John 
Ruskin, who was thought very radical in his 
time, confessed how quaintly old-fashioned 
he was in these words : " There is one dangerous 
science for women — one which let them beware 
how they profanely touch — that of theology/* 


As if the relation between God and man were 
a n^asculine monopoly! Ruskin's essay on 
'* Queens' Gardens" is an expression of the 
romantic liberal who dares and retreats, sings 
brave pseans of deliverance and then shrinks 
back into a sort of timid severity. He attri- 
butes to us almost every admirable quality 
that a human being could dream of possessing. 
Indeed, he praises us unfairly at the expense 
of our brothers; for he says: "Men are feeble 
in sympathy and contracted in hope; it is 
you only who can feel the depths of pain and 
conceive the way of its healing." That is to 
say, our natures are richer than men's, we 
suffer more, yet we must not explore the rela- 
tions between God and man by which our 
sufferings are explained and assuaged. It is 
amusing to remember that critics have spoken 
of Ruskin's genius as "feminine." 

The nineteenth century with its tardy med- 
iaevalism and its return to lights that never 
were on land or sea, together with its scientific 
clarity and its economic revolts, has simuned 
up all the confusions of woman's position. 
Ruskin and Spencer are contemporaries. Mill's 


"On the Subjection of Women** and Tenny- 
son's "Princess" are fruits of the same nation 
and the same era. 

There is a deeper comedy in the "Prin- 
cess" than Tennyson intended to put there. 
The opening scene is on an English lawn, and 
there is light talk about culture and the nobility 
of legendary women. One of the guests mocks 
at the notion of women's colleges: 

Pretty were the sight 
If our old halls could change their sex, and flaunt 
With prudes for proctors, dowagers for deans. 
And sweet girl graduates in their golden hair. 
I think they should not wear our rusty gowns. 
But move as rich as emperor-moths. 

Then the poet tells a sweet, fantastic story 
laid in Fairyland. The mood of the story is 
expressed in the sad, exquisite interludes, lyrics 
of tears, of dead warriors, and of soft yieldings 
to the touch of man. Poetry is timeless; but 
time brings its revenges even upon poets. 
Just before Tennyson, who had been a brave 
democrat in his youth, was made a baron, 
Newnham College was opened, and "sweet 


girl graduates" became so familiar . that the 
** Princess*' lost its mild point before the author 
was dead. Tennyson fluttered a little way 
into the thought of his time, and then fluttered 
back again. In the second "Locksley Hall/* 
he poetized his Toryism finally and fatally. 
Meanwhile the world had moved on. 

In the nineteenth century Shakespeare was 
rediscovered and worshipped the other side 
idolatry. Everything was f oimd in Shakespeare, 
including much that is not there; for example: 
his profound psychological knowledge of women. 
Books were written about his heroines which 
prove that the ideal of the perfect lady is 
drawn forever in the Shakespearian drama. 
In the introductions to the plays that I read 
at college, Rosalind and Portia are analyzed 
as if the whole philosophy of womanhood were 
contained in their poetical fancies, or at least as 
if we could never thoroughly understand women 
without knowing what Shakespeare wrote about 
them. I doubt if the women in Shakespeare's 
comedies are to be taken seriously. They 
are pretty creatures intended to be played by 
boys. They are the vehicle of any more or 


less fitting strain of poetry which happens to 
please the poet. Alice in Wonderland is a very 
real little girl; but one would not make a grave, 
scholarly analysis of the traits of character 
which she displays in her encounter with the 
Mock Turtle, Neither should we press too 
heavily upon Shakespeare's poetry to extract 
his beliefs about women. The unrivalled son- 
nets voice the praise and also the petulant 
dissatisfaction of a man in love, or pretending 
to be in love for the purpose of poetry. The 
woman-worship in the sonnets and in the glow- 
ing passages of the plays, spoken by gallants 
in pursuit of their ladies, is only the conven- 
tional romanticism common in mediaeval and 
renaissance literature. 

Shakespeare's phrasing outflies that of all 
other poets. But his ideas of women are 
neither original nor enlightened. In studying 
the social ideas of a writer and his time we 
often learn more from his unconscious testi- 
mony than from his direct eloquence. Portia 
is wise, witty, learned, especially when dis- 
guised as a man; but she is disposed of without 
protest, through her father's will and its 


irrational accidents, to a commonplace, bank- 
rupt courtier, and the tacit implication is that 
she is happily bestowed* Where Shakespeare 
brings Portia's career to an end, a modem 
comedy would begin. In the other plays the 
delightful heroine is hurried off at the close of 
the fifth act into the possession of a man whom 
she would not look at if she were as wise and 
strong and witty as the situations have repre- 
sented her. Wedlock, no matter what the 
conditions, or how deep its essential indignity, 
is good enough for the loveliest Shakespearian 
maiden, and there is no suggestion that all is 
not as it should be. Helena, devoted, brave, 
loyal, is rewarded by being given to a careless 
worthless youth. In "Twelfth Night," Viola 
and the sentimental Duke, Olivia and Sebastian, 
pair off as nimbly as if personality were only a 
matter of wigs and disguises, of identities 
easily mistaken and as easily reestablished. 
Hermione, queenly and gracious, is bound to a 
person who behaves like a furious spoilt 
child, and is represented as respecting him and 
wishing to keep him. 

Shakespeare does teach us much about the 


ideals of women that prevailed in his time. For 
he regards as a comic situation, to be turned 
with his magic phrases and concluded with 
joy-bells, what we should regard as a tragic 

The tragedy that lurks behind the false ideal 
of womanhood is being disclosed in our time. 
Woman is beginning to say to her master: 
^^Romantic man, cease a while your singing of 
lays antique and ballads new. We would talk 
with you in prose. You have dreamed long 
enough of the lady, who, alas, is in a negligible 
minority. It is time for you to give your 
superior intelligence to the well-being of mil- 
lions and millions of women." 



We women have often been told that the 
home contains all the interests and duties in 
which we are concerned. Our province is 
limited by the walls of a house, and to emerge 
from this honourable circumscription, to share 
in any broad enterprise, would be not only 


unladylike, but unwomanly. I could not help 
thinking of this the other day when I was asked 
to go to a far state and take part in some work 
that is being done for the blind. If I accepted 
this invitation, should I not be leaving my 
proper sphere, which is my home? I have 
thought of it many times since I learned that 
there are in America over six million women 
wage-earners. Every morning they leave their 
homes to tend machines, to scrub office-build- 
ings, to sell goods in department stores. Society i 
not only permits them to leave their proper 
sphere; it forces them to this unwomanly de- 
sertion of the hearth, in order that they may 
not starve. Oh, my sisters in the mills and 
shops, are you too tired, too indifferent to 
read the ridiculous arguments by which your 
rights are denied and your capacities depreci- 
ated in the sacred name of the home and its 

Woman's sphere is the home, and the home, 
too, is the sphere of man. The home embraces 
everything we strive for in this world. To get 
and maintain a decent home is the object of all 
our best endeavours. But where is the home? 


What are its boundaries? What does it 
contain? What must we do to secure and 
protect it? 

In olden times the home was a private 
factory. The man worked in the field or at 
his handicraft, while the woman made food 
and clothes. She shared in out-of-door labour; 
but indoor work naturally became her special 
province. The household was the centre of 
production, and in it and about it man sup- 
plied himself with all that he needed — or all 
that he had — by rudimentary hand-processes. 
The mill to grind com was not far away. 
The leather used by the shoemaker was from a 
beef killed by a neighbom". Over every cot- 
tage door the words might have been written: 
*'Mr. and Mrs. Man, Manufacturers and 
Dealers in General Merchandise." Home life 
and industrial life were one. To-day they 
are widely separated. Industries that used 
to be in the house are spread all over the world. 
The woman's spinning-wheel and part of her 
kitchen and dairy have been taken away from 
her. When she seeks to understand economic 
affairs, and to exert her authority in their 


management, she is in reality only following 
her utensils. 

The spinning-wheel, ancient emblem of do* 
mestic industry, has been removed to great 
factories. She has followed it there both as 
worker and owner. So she still does her part 
in the great task of clothing the human race. 
Where the spinning-wheel is, the woman has an 
ancestral right to be. For no matter how 
complex wheel and loom have become, she 
depends on them still to make the blanket that 
covers her child in its sleep. It is her duty as 
a house-mother to watch her spinning-wheel, 
to see that no member of the world-family 
goes ill-clad in an age when wool is abundant, 
when cunning machines can make good coats, 
when a ragged frock on a self-respecting woman 
is a shame to us all. It is for woman to follow 
her wheel, to make sure that it is spinning wool^ 
and not grinding misery, that no little child 
is chained to it in a torture of day-long labour. 
The spinning-wheel has grown a monstrous 
thing. In order to identify it, one must study 
wages, tariffs, dividends, the organization of 
labour and factory sanitation. The woman who 


studies these problems and insists on having a 
voice in their solution is in her home as truly as 
was her grandmother whose tireless foot drove 
the treadle of the old spinning-wheel. The 
home is where those things are made without 
which no home can be comfortable. 

Once the housewife made her own butter and 
baked her own bread; she even sowed, reaped, 
threshed, imd groimd the wheat. Now her 
chum has been removed to great cheese and 
butter factories. The village mill, where she 
used to take her com, is to-day in Minneapolis; 
her sickle is in Dakota. Every morning the 
express company delivers her loaves to the 
local grocer from a bakery that employs a 
thousand hands. The men who inspect her 
winter preserves are chemists in Washington. 


It would take a modem woman a Kfetime 
to walk across her kitchen floor; and to keep it 
clean is an Augean labour. No wonder that she 
sometimes shrinks from the task and joins 
the company of timid, lazy women who do not 
want to vote. But she must manage her home; 
for, no matter how grievously incompetent she 
may be, there is no one else authorized or able 
to manage it for her. She must secure for 
her children clean food at honest prices. 
Through all the changes of industry and govern- 
ment she remains the baker of bread, the min- 
ister of the universal sacrament of life. 

When she demands to be mistress of the 
national granary, the national kitchen, the 
national dairy, the national sewing-room, who- 
ever tells her to confine herself to her house is 
asking her to move forward and backward at 
the same time. This is a feat which even her 
inconsistency cannot achieve. The inconsis- 
tencies reside not in woman and her relation 
to her plain duties, but in her circumstances 
and in some of her critics. She can put a 
basket on her arm and bargain intelligently 
with a comer grocer; but she cannot understand 


the problem of nationalizing the railroads 
which have brought the food to the grocer's 
shop. She is clever at selecting a cut of meat; 
but the central meat-market must not be 
opened to her investigation; a congressional 
committee, which she did not choose, is doing 
its whole duty as father of the house when it 
tries to find out who owns the packing-houses 
in Chicago, how much money the owners make 
out of her dinner, and why thousands of tons 
of meat are shipped out of the country while 
her family is hungry. 

She opens a can of food which is adulterated 
with worthless or dangerous stuflf. In a dis- 
tant city a man is building himself a palace with 
the profits of many such cans. If a petty 
thief should break into her pantry, and she 
should fight him tooth and nail, she would be 
applauded for her spirit and bravery; but when 
a millionaire manufacturer a thousand miles 
away robs her by the peaceful methods of com- 
merce, she has nothing to say, because she does 
not understand business, and politics is not for 
her to meddle in. 

Woman's old "domestic sphere" has be- 


come not only an empty shell with much of the 
contents removed, but a fragile shell in which 
she is not safe. Beside her own hearth she 
may be poisoned, starved, and robbed. When 
shall we have done with the tyranny which 
applies worn-out formulas to modem conditions? 
When shall we learn that domestic economy 
is political economy? The noblest task of 
woman is to get bread for her children. What- 
ever touches her children's bread is her busmess. 
Woman from times long gone has been the 
nurse, the consoler, the healer of pain. To-day 
the sick-bed is often in a great public hospital. 
There she has followed it as professional nurse, 
and her services have been welcomed and 
acknowledged. In the hospital wards where 
she moves, deft, cheerful, capable, there are 
men unnecessarily laid low by the accidents of 
trade, and children maimed and dying who 
might be well and playing merrily in the bright 
morning of life. From the battlefields of 
industry come the wounded, from the shambles 
of poverty come the deformed. What enemy 
has stricken them? How much of all this 
disease and misery is preventable? Shall the 


wise nurse stand by the bed of pain and ask 
no questions about the social causes of ill- 
health? If her own child in her own home is 
needlessly hurt, she blames herself for her 
carelessness. In the world-home if a child is 
needlessly hurt, she is equally responsible. 
By her vigilance in the world-home woman can 
help to bring about a civilization in which every 
preventable disease shall be rooted out, and 
every condition that causes broken bodies 
shall be examined and abolished. This is her 
problem. She is mistress of the sick-room, and 
the sick-room is world-wide. 

The education of children is acknowledged 
as lying within the scope of maternal care. 
The mother is the first teacher before the child 
goes to school, and in the schoolroom her 
unmarried sister devotes herself as a pro- 
fessional foster-mother to the children of 
others. The American nursery is a public 
building with a flag flying over it. If anywhere, 
woman is mistress in the schoolroom. So 
evident is this that in relation to schools she 
has a certain political privilege. She can vote 
for the school conunittee and serve on it 


herself. But even here she is bound by a 
very short tether. She has nothing official to 
say about how much money shall be spent 
for schools. Her freedom in this respect, as in 
some others, is the form without the substance. 
For the fundamental question in the public 
school problem is the question of money. 
Money must be appropriated by men. More- 
over, the laws relating to children, for example, 
the laws of compulsory education, are made by 
men. It is not for her to say whether a child 
shall be taken from school to grind in mill and 
factory. Yet every child plunged in igno- 
rance, bent by man's work before his time, is a 
thwarting of her sacred mission to fill the world 
with children well-bom, well-bred, beautiful, 
wise, strong for the burdens of life! The 
schoolroom and all that it means belongs to 
the central intimacy of home, and all that 
violates the schoolroom violates the sanctity 
of the woman's hearth. 

It is idle to say that woman could not 
improve the schools, that the schools are 
already free, and that every child has oppor- 
tunity for instruction. The efficiency of the 


school depends upon things outside the school- 
room. It has been found that you must 
feed your child before you can teach it, and 
that the poor home defeats the best school* 
room. Behind the free school we must have 
a free people. What profits it to provide 
costly school buildings for anemic, under-fed 
children, to pass compulsory education laws 
and not secure a livelihood for the families 
whose children must obey them? What is 
the common sense of free text-books without 
wholesome food and proper clothing? Where 
is the logic — masculine or feminine — of 
free schools and free child-labour in the same 
commonwealth? These questions concern the 
most ignorant woman and the best educated 
woman, and the solution of them is necessary 
to the health and comfort of every home. 

Woman's place is still the household . But the 
household is more spacious than in times gone 
by. Not all the changes of modern life have 
changed woman's duties essentially. Her work 
as spinner, bread-giver, helper of the helpless, 
mother and teacher of children is nowise 
different to-day but is immensely increased and 


intensified. Too often confused by the dazzle 
and uproar of modem life, she is the primal 
woman still, the saviour and shaper of the race. 

In what a grim, strange abode must she 
often discharge her old-time functions ! Some- 
times it is no home at all, but an overcrowded, 
sunless lodging; it is not a shelter, but an 
industrial prison; it is not a nursery, but a 
lazaretto. Countless mothers of men have 
no place fit to be bom in, to bear others in, 
to die in. Packed in tenements forgot of 
light, unheeded and slighted, starved of eye 
and ear and heart, they wear out their dull 
existence in monotonous toil — all for a crust 
of bread! They strive and labour, sweat and 
produce; they subject their bodies and soul 
to every risk, lest their children die for want 
of food. Their clever hands which have so 
long been set to the spindle and the distaff, 
their patience, their industry, their cheapness, 
have but served to herd them in masses imder 
the control of a growing industrial despotism. 

Why is all this? Partly because woman 
does not own and direct her own share of 
the national household. Tme govemment is 


notliing but the management of this household 
for the good of the family. Under what kind 
of government do we live? To this question, 
her question, woman must find an answer 
by following her sisters to their places of 
sojourn. It is for her to know if their home 
is home indeed, if their shelter is strong and 
healthful, if every room — in lodging, shop, 
and factory — is open to light and air. It is 
for her to see that every dweller therein has 
freedom to drink in the winds of heaven and 
refresh his mind with music, art, and books; 
it is for her to see that every mother is enabled 
to bring up her children under favourable 

The greatest change is coming that has 
ever come in the history of the world. Order 
is evolving out of the chaos that followed 
the breaking up of the old system in which 
each household lived after its own manner. 
By using the physical forces of the universe 
men have replaced the slow hand-processes 
with the swift power of machines. If women 
demand it, a fair share of the machine-products 
will go to them and their families, as when the 


loom stood at hand in their dwellings. They 
will no more give all their best years to keep 
bright and fair the homes of others while 
their own are neglected. They will no more 
consume all their time» strength, and mental 
capacity in bringing up the rosy, laughing 
children of others while their own sweet children 


grow up pitiful and stimted. There is mother- 
hood enough in the world to go roimd if it is 
not abused and wasted. 

Yes, the greatest change is coming that has 
ever come in the history of the world. The 
idea that a higher power decrees definite 
stations for diflferent human beings — that 
some are bom to be kings and others to be 
slaves — is passing away. We know that 
there is plenty of room in the world and plenty 
of raw material in it for us all to be bom 
right, to be brought up right, to work right, 
and to die right. We know that by the 
application of ordinary intelligence and common 
good-will, we can secure to every one of our 
children the means of culture, progress, and 
knowledge, of reasonable comfort, health, and 
happiness, or, if not happiness, at least freedom 


from the unnecessary misery which we all 
suffer to-day. This is the new faith that is 
taking the place of the faith in blind, selfish, 
capricious powers. Religion, the life of which 
is to do good, a supplanting the old servile 
superstitions. The spirit of the time we are 
in has been eloquently described by Henry 
Demarest Lloyd: 

**It is an ethical renaissance, and insists 
that the divine ideals preached for thousands 
of years by the priests of humanity be put into 
form, now, here, and practically, in farm and 
mine, stock-market, factory, and bank. It 
denies point-blank that business is business. 
It declares business to be business and politics 
and religion. Business is the stewardship 
of the commissary of mankind, the administra- 
tion of the resources upon which depend the 
possibilities of the human life, which is the 
divine life.* 

What is there, then, so cold, sordid, inhuman 
in economics that we women should shrink 
from the subject, disclaim all part in it, when 
we touch it daily in our domestic lives? 

Many young women full of devotion and 


good-will have been engaged in superficial 
charities. They have tried to feed the hungry 
without knowing the causes of poverty. They 
have tried to minister to the sick without 
understanding the cause of disease. They 
have tried to raise up fallen sisters without 
knowing the brutal arm of necessity that 
struck them down. We give relief to a mother 
here and there, and still women are worn out 
at their daily tasks. We attempt social reforms 
where we need social transformations. We 
mend small things and leave the great things 
untouched. We strive after order and comfort 
in a few households, regardless of the world 
where distress prevails and loveliness is trodden 
in the dust. 

Our abiding-place will be home indeed when 
the world outside is a peaceful, bright home 
for mankind. Woman's happiness depends 
upon her knowledge of the facts of life as much 
as upon her lovely thoughts and sweet speech 
and her faithfulness to small duties. In 
woman is wrapped the hope of the future. 
The new child, the new civilization, all the 
X)ossibilities that sleep in mankind are enfolded 


in her. In her travail is the resurrection of 
the human race. All this glorious promise 
can be brought to naught by ignorance of the 
world in which it is to be fulfilled. To plead 
with woman to urge her to open her eyes to the 
great affairs of life, is merely to bid her make 
ready her house for the child that is to be bomr 


Five years ago I had to decide whether I 
should be a heretic, or adhere to the ancient 
faith that it is the woman's part to lay her 
hands to the spindle and to hold the distaff. 
Some of my friends were enthusiastic about 
the advantages of a college education, and 
the special honour it would be for me to com- 
pete with my fellows who see and hear. Others 
were doubtful. One gentleman said to me: 
"I do not approve of college women, because 
they lose all respect for men.*' This argu- 
ment had, however, the opposite effect to 
what was intended; for I thought if our respect 
for men could be philosophized, or econo- 
mized, or debated, or booked away, or by 
any learning rendered null and void, the men 
must be at fault, and it was my duty as a 
woman to try to reestablish them on their 

*McClure*s Magazine, June, 1905. 



ancient pedestal. Fortunately women are bom 
with a missionary spirit. 

The champions of what Bacon calls '* she- 
colleges/' gave their persuasions a Baconian 
turn. "College maketh a full man; con- 
ference a ready man; and writing an exact 
man, and so," said they, "college maketh a 
full, ready, and exact woman." K I did not 
confer, I should have a hoar-frost on my wits, 
and if I did not read under judicious instruc- 
tion, I should have to pretend to knowledge 
in the presence of Princess Ida and her "vio- 
let-hooded doctors." Then came yet other 
people who set to work to destroy the 
arguments of the advocates. "What use is 
there in your going to college? You will find 
much drudgery, and you must renounce many 
of your dearest pleasures. What will come of 
it? You cannot hope to teach or turn your 
education to practical account. Why not 
take life pleasantly? Why not stay at home 
and read books and develop your individuality? 
College is only for mediocre people, not for 
geniuses." (This was music in my fingers!) 
It grieves me that those who spoke so elo- 


quently should have spoken in vain. But 
love of knowledge had stopped the ears with 
which I hear. I felt that all the forces of my 
nature were cudgelling me to college. It 
was not in the hope of large scholarship that I 
made the pilgrimage to this laborious Eldorado. 
The riches I sought consisted in learning to 
do something, and do it well. I felt,^ and still 
feel, that the demand of the world is not so 
much for scholarship as for effective service. 
The world needs men and women who are 
able to work, and who will work with enthu- 
siasm; and it is to college graduates that 
this nation has a right to look for intelligent 
sons and daughters who will return to the State 
tenfold what the State has given to them. 

I realized that the avenues of usefulness 
opened to me were few and strait. But who 
shall set bounds to the aspirations of the 
mind, or limit that which the Lord hath 
created in His mercy and goodness? I had 
a mind to begm with, and two good hands by 
which I had groped my way to the frontiers 
of knowledge. Beyond the frontiers there 
might be stretches of desert; but if you must 



pass through a desert to ref^ the smiling 
land of plenty, set forth bravely, and the 
hard journey across the waste places shall 
give strength to your feet. We derive bene- 
fit from the things we do not like, but do 
nevertheless because they have to be done, 
and done all the more conscientiously be- 
cause we do not like them. Necessity teaches 
patience and obedience. 

These considerations, then, determined me 
to take a college course. I suppose I ap- 
peared to many of my advisers like the Phil- 
istines who went to the wars as men proud of 
destruction. People are too prone to think 
that the actual is the limit of possibility. 
They believe that all that has been done is all 
that can be done. They ridicule every departure 
from practice. "No deaf -blind person has ever 
taken a college course," they say. "Why do 
you attempt what no one else has ventured? 
Even if you succeed in passing the entrance 
examinations, you cannot go on after you get 
into college. You have no books. You cannot 
hear lectures. You cannot make notes. You 
are most foolhardy to attempt something in 

i i 


wMch you are sure to fail." Thus counselled 
the unadventurous people to whom the untrod- 
den field is full of traps and pitfalls. Although 
they are Christians, yet they are possessed 
of the idea that man does everything, and 
God does nothing! The argument brought 
against me, that no deaf -blind person had ever 
gone to college, was precisely the kind of ar- 
gument brought a generation ago against any 
woman's going to college. True, there had 
been seminaries and academies for girls, but 
no colleges of a university standard; and 
the so-called universities for men showed 
stem oaken doors to all women. There was 
no precedent for trying woman's intelligence 
in a fair contest by the high criterion men 
had established for themselves: but women 
created a new precedent. 

Before 1878, women, backed by public 
opinion, were already standing at the door of 
Harvard demanding higher education, and 
conservative men felt uneasy lest they should 
seem selfishly to monopolize knowledge. A 
few progressive members of the Harvard 
Faculty agreed to teach women in private 


classes. There was a precedent for tliis; for 
in England women were already receiving 
instruction from professors of Oxford and 
Cambridge. The new project in American 
Cambridge enlisted, between 1879 and 1881, 
the services of nearly forty Harvard instruc- 
tors. According to an historian, the few 
women who availed themselves of this new 
opportunity were keen, earnest, and capable 
to such a degree that the only trouble was to 
satisfy their demands. In 1882 the Society 
for the Collegiate Instruction of Women was 
organized. The next year three young 
women finished the four years* course, and 
about fifty were taking partial courses. All 
had proved their ability to do work at least 
equal to that of Harvard students. Yet 
there were no degrees to reward them, only 
certificates stating that the course they had 
taken was equal to one at Harvard. Even 
when Atalanta won the race, the prize went 
still to a lame Hippomenes! 

In 1894 the Society took the name of Rad- 
cliffe College, and got its charter from the 
legislature, which gave it the right to confer 



its own degree. This degree is countersigned 
by the president of Harvard, who warrants 
it equal to a Harvard degree. We owe Rad- 
cliflfe not to Harvard, but to the success of 
those first earnest students who proved that 
they were able to do university work, and to 
the large-minded professors who, by unof- 
ficial and individual devotion to learning, 
helped the pilgrim band to found a safe, 
permanent home where other women could 
come. That little band has transmitted the 
torch of learning for women from frontier to 
frontier, until there is not a State in the Union 
which does not provide for the higher education 
of women. Every woman, whether she can 
go to college or not, owes a great deal to those 
pioneers who cleared a place in the wilderness 
of men's prejudice for the lowly walls of the first 
woman's college. 

Radcliffe College was a new and stronger 
expression of the spirit which had founded 
several good American colleges for girls. For 
the first time in America women's educational 
opportunities were equal to those of men. 

Radcliffe College iiiherits the spirit of the 



women who, twenty-seven years ago, sou^t 
knowledge for its own sake. Radcliffe is 
still for earnest women who seek knowledge 
for its own sake. Girls who go there should 
have some object in view, some standard of 
excellence, the gift of handling knowledge in 
a plain, downright way. There is too little 
teaching at Harvard and Radcliffe, but there 
is much opportunity to learn. You may 
take the treasures offered, or leave them. At 
Radcliffe, I think, the treasures are more 
highly valued than among the young gentle- 
men across the street; for young men, I am 
told, go to college for a variety of reasons, or 
for no reason at all. A girl who goes to 
Radcliffe should be filled with the desire to 
look behind the forms of things into things 
themselves, and to add to beauty and soft- 
ness, solidity and accuracy of knowledge. 
Stucco is no more serviceable to woman than 
to man. A well-trained mind and the abil- 
ity to grasp the ideas essential to a purpose 
and carry them out with perseverance — 
this is the ideal Radcliffe places before 
women. How far this ideal can be realized 


appeared at a meeting of Radcliffe alumnae 
last year, where there were nine speakers — 
the scholar, the poet, the teacher, the drama- 
tist, the administrative woman, the woman 
in domestic life. Their success had lain in 
different directions, and each testified that 
she owed her success in large part to her 
training at Radcliffe. Any young woman 
who acquires the self-control which Radcliffe 
teaches, and performs her task resolutely, 
may stand up before the kings of learning 
and not be ashamed, whether she be a 
writer, a teacher, a speaker, an administrative 
woman, a society woman, or a home-maker. 
Radcliffe strives to give her students the sub- 
stance of wisdom, and to promote earnest and 
independent scholarship. In her, discipline, 
knowledge, and self-mastery have replaced 
the narrow rules of conduct and the prudish 
dogmatism of the old-fashioned women's acad- 
emies, just as arbitration and statesmanship 
are replacing the soldier and the priest. If the 
classes at Radcliffe which sit under Professor 
Kittredge and Doctor Royce are not learned, 
they at least carry away with them a sense 


of the dignity of scholarship, and do not, 
like Becky Sharp, when they depart through 
the college gate, hurl Johnson's dictionary at 
their preceptor's head. 

For the first time in the history of the world, 
women are expected to have an intelligent 
understanding of business, of politics, of all 
the practical problems of our modem life. 
The college woman learns to cooperate with 
others, and that means she learns how not 
to have her own way. Experience in college 
activities teaches her the right of her com- 
panions to freedom of thought and action. 
By throwing herself into college affairs, she 
acqmres the habit of rendermg inteUigent and 
efficient service to others; so that when she 
graduates, she becomes a practical force in 
the world, and a responsible member of society. 

Like all human institutions Radcliffe falls 
short of her ideals, and her students, who are 
also human, do not always achieve theirs. I 
am acquainted with one who did not. Where 
I failed, the fault was sometimes my own» 
sometimes attributable to the peculiar cir- 
cumstances under which I worked. But my 


successes were made possible by the spirit 
and the methods of the college and its imique 
advantages. And there were many advan- 
tages I could not avail myself of. The lectures, 
libraries, theatres, and museums for which 
Boston and Cambridge are celebrated, and 
which largely supplement college work, were 
not of service to me. The advantages of 
especial value to me were the excellence 
of the instruction and the liberality of the 
elective system. The quality of the instruc- 
tion at Radcliffe is beyond question; for it 
is given by the best men at Harvard. The 
elective system oflFers a broad variety of 
courses and freedom of choice. Many sub- 
jects were impossible for me on account 
of my limitations, and I could not have 
planned my course so as to win a degree but 
for the scope of the Radcliffe curriculum. 
The ordinary student, who is not so restricted 
as I was, has wider opportunities, and she 
must choose wisely. In her very selection of 
coiu-ses there is a chance to "develop her in- 
dividuality.'* And in the exercise of judg- 
ment as to the amount of time and energy 


she will devote to her work, she proves her 

In a college like Radcliffe, where so much 
depends on individual judgment, the stu- 
dents fall naturally into three classes: first, 
those who choose their course wisely and 
pursue it with consistency, without sacri- 
ficing other joys and interests; second, "joyless 
grinds" who study for high marks; and third, 
those who choose indiscriminately courses that 
are pleasant, easy, and unrelated. 

In the first class are those who realize that 
to get the greatest benefit from college it is 
necessary to take one's time, to proceed at an 
easy gait, and not to hurry or scramble. They 
know the pleasure of lingering oyer a subject, 
of asking questions, and of foUowing an idea 
as fancy listeth. Happy study is as sweet 
to the true student as news of his sweetheart 
to the ardent lover. But the happy following 
of an interesting idea is not always possible* 
The arbitrary demands of instructors and the 
exigencies of a mechanical routine often for- 
bid it. If my college is at fault in not per- 
mitting enough leisurely and meditative study. 


I hereby suggest my panacea — fewer courses, 
and more time for each. 

Every student has a panacea for some weak- 
ness of his alma mater. One would have dull 
professors prohibited, another would have all 
dates and formulas weeded out» another would 
have examinations abolished, another would 
do away with daily themes extorted from 
impoverished mmds — a most tyramiical op- 
pression, taxation without representation, the 
wrong which lost England her thirteen colonies ! 
If the instructors would only consult the benevo- 
lent, reforming student, he could give them 
valuable points. But instead of consulting 
the student's profound intuitions, the in- 
structors go forward in a straight, narrow 
line, never looking to the right or to the left, 
blind and deaf to the wisdom that crieth on 
the campus. The younger the student is, 
the more confident he is that he has found 
the solution of the problem. He often forgets 
that his alma mater has given him the very 
wisdom with which he sharpens his darts 
against her. The critical student sees that 
the reformative schemes of his fellow-students 


are valueless. Their incompetence is glaring! 
But as he grows older he sees his own folly too. 
If after his graduation he has tried to plan the 
curriculum of a small primary school and failed, 
he too will turn conservative, and leave to time's 
slow evolution the great problems of education. 
To be candid, I have proposed the lei- 
surely, reflective manner of study because I 
have an indolent, wayward mind which likes 
to ramble through the garden of knowledge, 
picking here a leal, there a blossom, and so 
oflP to pastures new. Fortunately, the spirit 
of Radcliffe and a good conscience forbid 
that the student shall abuse her liberties. It 
is good for us to read books we do not like. 
The performance of set tasks and work that is 
not of our choosing are stimulating. Miry ways 
and rugged mountain-paths mean strength, 
grit, poise. If they draw out our miles and 
make them wearisome, it only means that we 
have new vigour added to us, and that we 
shall enter into the treasures of endurance. X 
know not whether I with more delight strapped 
the knapsack over my shoulder, or set it 
down at the end of the journey. The master- 


ing of difficulties is followed by a sense of well- 
being and capacity which is like a river of 
water in a dry land, like a shadow of a great 
rock in the heat. 

The girl who is not a slave to books, who 
selects her courses judiciously and gives them 
a right and proper amount of strength, is 
not to be confounded with the girl whose 
independence is mere indiflference or ego- 
tism. Not such do I admire, and, for all my 
pet schemes to reform my college, not such 
am I. I only maintain that we have a right 
to ourselves, that we shoidd be masters of 
our books and preserve our serenity. There 
is no projfit where there is no pleasure. Col- 
lege consists of five parts sense and five parts 
what, from the class-room point of view, 
would be called nonsense; but nonsense is 
the very vitality of youth. After all, book- 
knowledge is not the most important thing 
to acquire, and perpetual work on five or 
six courses cannot be sustained without neglect 
of other important things. Even thoughtful 
and independent girls try to do so much 
that they can do nothing thoroughly. They 


rush, cram, thieve many hours from their 
nights, and for all their ill-timed industry 
they hand in next morning papers full of 
mistakes. Although I always tried to work 
with a cool head and steady hand, and sleep 
according to the law, I, too, was drawn into 
this whirlpool of confused, incomplete tasks. 
I met other girls in the college halls and on the 
stairs who stopped a moment to greet me, but 
they were rushing from lecture to examina- 
tion, from examination to basket-ball practice, 
from practice to dramatic rehearsal, from 
rehearsal to conference, and there was no 
time for a pleasant chat. And if the girls 
who had eyes and ears were overburdened 
and distraught, I was at least no better off. 
During four years a torrent of miscellane- 
ous knowledge poured through my fingers, 
and it fills me with despair to think how 
much of the choicest matter of this abun- 
dant stream dripped and oozed away. I was 
eager to draw from the living waters of wis- 
dom; but my pitcher must have had a hole 
in it. I was like the Danaides who poured 
water eternally into a broken urn. 


Once in a while a book or an instructor 
started a vein of bright thoughts. I caught 
a glimpse of old truths in a new perspective; 
but I could not linger. Before I had got 
a good look, I was hurried away on the cur- 
rent of words, and in the effort to keep from 
being upset in midstream I lost sight of the 
bright idea, and on reaching firm ground I 
was chagrined to find that it had fallen over- 
board. The idea thus irrevocably lost was 
often one on which depended a fortnightly 
composition, or even a three hours* examination. 
I was of course hampered by my limita- 
tions, which turned to drudgery much work 
that might have been delightful; for they 
imposed upon me tedious methods of study. 
I was often behind in my work at a distance 
forbidden by military law; I was never ahead; 
and once I fell so far behind that it seemed 
as if I might as well try to keep pace with a 
shooting star! Experience, however, taught 
me to tack against wind and tide — the first 
lesson of life I learned in college. And this 
was easier with Miss Sullivan at the helm. 
I would not part with one of those struggles 


against the gales — "the winds and perse- 
cutions of the sky.** They tested my powers 
and developed the individuality which I had 
been advised to bring up on books at home. 

Had I not gone to college, I should have 
missed some of the authors whose individuality 
taught me to value my own without isolating 
myself from the seeing and hearing world. I 
discovered that darkness and silence might be 
rich in possibilities, which in my turn I might 
discover to the world. In other words, I 
found the treasures of my own island. For 
that I am largely indebted to Professor Charles 
T. Copeland, my instructor in English com- 

Different students seek different treasures. 
To some the most precious nuggets are high 
marks. Such plodders as I watch their quest 
from afar. We hear about them with the 
wonder with which we listened to the fairy 
tales of our childhood; but we should . not 
dream of following them' any more than we 
should think of going in search of the singing- 
tree in the "Arabian Nights." Their high 
marks are no incentive to us to fill our mid- 


night lamps with oil that we may enter in 
with the wise virgins. They stuflp themselves 
with dates, and with figs gathered of thistles, 
and think themselves blessed. They have 
dyspeptic nightmares of the brain, in which 
they go through flood and fire, seeking the 
phantom gold at the rainbow's end. 

The court to which they return from a futile 
quest, or with meagre spoil, is a chamber 
of inquisition. Oh, the examinations! They 
separate us from our kind. They water our 
pillows, they drive sleep from our beds, they 
inspire us with hope, then dash us ruthlessly 
from our pinnacle, they cross-question us 
until their martyrs Ue in the dust, and their 
apostasy is the open secret of the imiverse. 
Oh, those little crisp sheets of paper written 
with a pencil of fire which consumeth ideas 
like chaff! They are the accidents of time 
and flesh, they are mere conundrums on which 
we throw away our beauty sleep; and, in the 
end, all the dull substance of our brains and 
our ingenious padding dwindle to a lame and 
impotent conclusion. 

Before an examination we feel delightfully 


precocious and original. After it we are full 
of the wise things we did not say. We took 
twice as much trouble as was necessary to 
prepare our subject only to miss the essential 
points after all. The least explicable thing 
that an examination paper does is to destroy 
your sense of proportion and reduce every- 
thing you have read to a dead level. Like 
Doctor Johnson you make yomr little fishes 
talk like whales, and your whales twitter like 
canary birds, and the result is a collision of 
contrary absurdities! 

The chief loss of a girl who "grinds'* is 
that she misses other college activities. It 
is the light of college education to join with 
one's fellow-students on class-teams, in col- 
lege plays, and on the college magazines. 
For the most part you study by yourself; 
but in the united activities of class and col- 
lege you learn the tact and community which 
are the beginning of useful service to man- 
kind. Of course I had little part in the social 
life of my college. I enjoyed my share of 
work; the obstacles which were declared in- 
surmountable came against me one way and 


retreated seven ways, and that was happiness 
enough. I had> too, many pleasures, solitary 
and apart from the other girls, but as genuine 
as theirs. They often invited me to join their 
frolics and club-meetings, and it cost me many 
a twinge of regret not to be able to take part 
in their aflFairs; for I was keenly alive to every- 
thing that interested them. If I had been of 
the class of 1906 or 1907, I should have met 
them oftener in the new Elizabeth Cary 
Agassiz House, which is to be the social centre 
of Radcliffe, and I should have felt the 
inspiration of their activities. Nothmg en- 
courages us so much as the example of others, 
nothing stirs our energies more than gener- 
ous emulation, nothing comforts us so much 
in discouragement as companionship. My 
friendships must come through the medium 
of my hand, and few of the girls knew the 
manual alphabet; and the conditions under 
which we shook hands for a moment in the 
crowded class-room were not favourable to 
intimacy. They could not reach me through 
my isolation, and in the midst of my class I 
could not help at times feeling lonely and sad. 


But a happy disposition turns everytliing 
to good» yea» the want of one thing, lacking 
which so many melancholy beings want every- 
thing. I forgot my loneliness in the cheerful 
realities that touched me. I knew there was a 
rich store of experience outside my compre- 
hension, but the little I could grasp was won- 
derful enough, and having contentment I was 
possessed of the boon whereof I had been 

A happy spirit is worth a library of learn- 
ing. I think I derived from the daily walk 
to college with Miss Sullivan more genuine 
pleasure than comes to many a girl who sits 
in a comer and works the sunshine, the fresh 
air, and even good humour out of her morning 
lessons — all for high marks. 

On the other hand, I do not understand 
the motives of that third class of girls who go 
to college, apparently, to be entertained. I 
do not see the use of studies chosen from year 
to year, without plan or forethought, be- 
cause this instructor marks easily, or that 
professor is **so nice,'' or the conference man 
is "so polite," or "Doctor G. keeps you so in- 


terested'* — in himself, that means, not in 
the subject. These girls dip into all that 
treats of whatsoever is» the state, the total 
chronicle of man, chemical and electrical 
laws, and whatsoever can be taught and 
known. "General education*' is their apol- 
ogy, their rock of defence, their tabernacle 
from which they shall not be moved. I 
have known girls who graduated, and with 
good marks, too, whose minds seemed to me 
undisciplined and crammed with odds and 
ends of knowledge which they displayed for 
the enlightenment of their friends. They 
reminded me of the maidens of old whose 
accomplishments were feminine and elegant, 
who brought out a sketch-book to be in- 
spected by admiring friends. The sketches 
represented nothing that creepeth on the 
ground, flieth in the air or passeth through 
the paths of the seas, but they were lady- 
like all the same. Girls whose education is 
too general shall prove to halve none at all. 
Their injSnite variety will be withered by 
age and staled by custom. 
The ideal of college education is not to 


give miscellaneous instruction, but to dis- 
close to the student his highest capacities 
and teadi him how to turn them to achieve- 
ment. By this ideal, those who laboiur in 
darkness are brought to see a great light, 
and those who dwell in silence shall give 
service in obedience to the voice of love. 


,You have come up out of the prunaxy school, 
through the grammar school, through the 
high school, and this beautiful Jime morning 
finds you standing where the brook meets the 

The carefree days of childhood are past, 
and the mystery of an unknown life awaits 
you at the threshold of the college which you 
^will enter next September. 

It is fitting that you pause, serious and 
thoughtful; for you have not passed this way 
heretofore. The time has come when you must 
put away, with loving hands, the playthings 
of your childhood, the familiar habits and 
immunities and companions of your protected 
girlhood, leave soUcitous friends and guardians, 
and enter, through the college door, upon the 
larger responsibilities and joys of womanhood. 

* YauUCa Companion, June 8, 1905. 



Your life is before you, "so various, so beauti- 
ful, so new." 

The power and the delight of unknown com- 
ing things are filling your minds with glad 
expectancy. You are ready to walk erect and 
fearless in the ways of knowledge. You have 
resolved to go to college, and you stand pre- 
pared to make your resolution a living fact, a 
visible bodying forth of the purpose that is in 
you. But you must first lay aside agnxiety of 
mind and distrust of your powers; for knowledge 
is holy ground, and joy alone shall lead your 
steps aright. 

It is often said that usefulness is the end 
of life; and so it is. But happiness creates 
and inspires usefulness. K you have many 
gifts, and the power to understand, even if you 
meditate night and day how to promote the 
welfare of the world, it shall all profit you 
little if you have not joy. Take up joy, 
then, as you stand before the gate of your 
student life, and enter fearlessly. Think tihiat 
the college you have set your hearts on holds 
all good things in her hand. Believe that in 
her halls your higher dreams shall be realized. 


But do not forget that the great gifts which 
you are about to receive from your college 
bring with them great obligations, and that 
your larger freedom is a sacred bondage to 
great ideas. 

In college you will be brought face to face 
with nearly all the fimdamental questions of 
life, and you will learn how many men have 
tried to solve them. Hitch your wagon to a 
happy star, and you also shall help to solve 
them. The world needs your intellect, your 
scholarship, but most of all your hearts — 
hearts that are loving, brave, hopeful, happy. 

Does all this dream of high privilege and 
noble service seem far above your circumstances, 
beyond the reach of your strength and your 
powers of mind? Remember what Senator 
Hoar said: "Much of the good work of the 
world has been that of dull people who have 
done their best." Many a girl who thought 
herself mediocre has won high honours in 

Fears and regrets have no place in the vocab- 
ulary of youth, whose spirit sets its white and 
shining wings toward the purple shores of the 



Promised Land. Be happy, talk happiness. 
Happiness calls out responsive gladness in 
others. There is enough sadness in the world 
without yours. Rebel against the hardness and 
injustice of things as much as you like. It is 
always well to keep your fighting edge keen to 
smite wrongs wherever you meet them. But 
never doubt the excellence and permanence of 
what is yet to be. Never doubt that this is 
God's world, and that it is brought nearer to 
Him by the right work of the least of His 
children no less than by the mighty works of 
genius. You are no less necessary to the world's 
uplifting than Luther and Lincoln. 

Join the great company of those who make 
the barren places of life fruitfid with kindness. 
Carry a vision of heaven in your souls, and 
you shall make your home, your college, the 
world correspond to that vision. Your suc- 
cess and happiness lie in you. External con- 
ditions are the accidents of life, its outer 
trappings. ^ The great, enduring realities are 
love and service. Joy is the holy fire that 
keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence 
aglow« Work without joy shall be as nothing. 


Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you 
shall form an invincible host against difficult 

Perhaps in college you may meet with books 
which suggest to you that it is noble and comely 
to be unhappy. Many clever people have found 
many reasons for unhappiness. Some learned 
men have peered between the curtains of life's 
tabernacle, found it empty and a cunning sham, 
and in the dimness of their spiritual sight they 
have gone away grumbling, never suspecting 
their own blindness. From their conclusions 
turn to Stevenson and Browning, read St. 
Paul's epistles, learn that the tabernacle is a 
temple wherein God abides. 

Think, read, study diligently day by day, 
and the severest tests of your knowledge shall 
find you prepared and confident. Do not lose 
sleep over the prospect of examinations, or fret 
above the printed page until you cannot read 
its lessons clear. Even if you do not win 
academic distinction, remember that it may be 
more worth while to help another girl per- 
form a difficult task than to win a high mark 
yourself. It is less important to do justice to 


books than to be honest and kmd and generous 
in your relations to your fellow-students. 

Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; 
but do not let them master you. Let them 
teach you patience, sweetness, insight. True 
education combines intellect, beauty, goodness, 
and the greatest of these is goodness. When 
we do the best that we can, we never know 
what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the 
life of another. 

To go to college is like going to a strange 
town to live. Your fellow-students are of 
all sorts and classes, and often seem to have 
nothing in common with each other, except 
the desire for approbation, sympathy, and love. 
K you understand the complex diversity of a 
college community, you will be spared many 
disappointments in your freshman year. When 
you find yourselves forlorn and homesick for a 
time, you will not feel bitterly toward the 
other girls because they do not follow you about 
the campus, or stop you on the stairs to offer 
you their undying friendship. 

The freshman is often painfully aware of 
qualities of mind and heart which should place 


her kigh in the council of her class, and she is 
surprised that others are so slow to recognize 
them. But you will find your place in college as 
surely as water seeks its level. Only you must 
not sit and mope, or stand outside your class 
and criticise its officers, athletics, and clubs. 
You must throw yourselves into the midst of 
its activities and discover where you can be 
useful. To be a leader in your class requires 
the same qualities that are required to be a 
leader anywhere. It is not so much genius that 
availeth as energy, industry, and willingness tb' 
make personal sacrifices. 

Learn from your books not only the day's 
lesson, but the life lesson. La all knowledge, 
in the classics, in science, in history and liter- 
ature, and in mathematics you will see the 
struggle of man to get nearer to God. Re- 
solve,, then, as you stand on the threshold of 
your student days, with an enlightened optimism 
to cojasecrate your education to the service of 
othei(s. When your thoughts become pessi- 
mistidi, when it seems as if all men were 
deafeiied by the tumult of trade, blinded by 
self-interest and greed turn the pages of your 


history of England, and you will find tliat the 
ideas which shaped the Anglo-Saxon race were 
not mean or sordid. 

American history, too, is filled with heroes 
and martyrs who joyfully pushed aside ambi- 
tion and gave their lives to the common weal. 

"Are men blind?'* they cried. "We will 
open their eyes. Are they deaf? We will un- 
stop their ears. Are they hungry? They shall 
be fed. Are they cast down and oppressed? 
As God liveth, they shall be free!" 

The world needs more of this spirit of service. 
There is gtill many a desert place where the 
sun of love and the light of truth have not 
shone. The occasion waits for every college 
graduate, in the joyous erectness of youth, and 
vigour, to answer, "Lord, here am I; send me." 



I thank you for tlie copy of "Votes for 
Women." Mr. Zangwill*s' address interested 
me deeply. You ask me to comment on it, 
and though I know little, your request en- 
courages me to tell you some of my ideas on 
the subject. 

I have thought much lately about the ques- 
tion of woman-suffrage, and I have followed 
in my Braille magazines the recent elections 
in Great Britain. The other day I read a 
fine report of an address by Miss Pankhurst 
at a meeting in New York. 

I do not believe that the present government 
has any intention of giving woman a part in 
national politics, or of doing justice to Ireland, 
or to the workmen of England. So long as the 
franchise is denied to a large number of those 

^Published in the Manchester (England) AdvertUer, March 
8, 1911. 



who serve and benefit the public, so long as 
those who vote are at the beck and call of 
party machines, the people are not free, and 
the day of women's freedom seems still to be 
in the far future. It makes no difference 
whether the Tories or the Liberals in Great 
Britain, the Democrats or the Republicans in 
the United States, or any party of the old 
model in any other country get the upper 
hand. To ask any such party for women's 
rights is like asking a czar for democracy. 

Are not the dominant parties managed 
by the ruling classes, that is, the propertied 
classes, solely for the profit and privilege of the 
few? They use us millions to help them into 
power. They tell us like so many children 
that our safety lies in voting for them. They 
toss us crumbs of concession to make us be- 
lieve that they are working in our interest. 
Then they exploit the resources of the nation 
not for us, but for the interests which they 
represent and uphold. We, the people, are 
not free. Our democracy is but a name. We 
vote? What does that mean? It means that 
we choose between two bodies of real, though 


not avowed autocrats. We choose between 
Tweedledum and Tweedledee. We elect ex- 
pensive masters to do our work for us, and 
then blame them because they work for them- 
selves and for their class. The enfranchise- 
ment of women is a part of the vast movement 
to enfranchise all mankind. You ask for 
votes for women. What good can votes 
do you when ten elevenths of the land of 
Great Britain belongs to two hundred thou- 
sand, and only one eleventh to the rest of the 
forty millions? Have your men with their 
millions of votes freed themselves from this 

When one shows the masters that half the 
wealth of Great Britain belongs to twenty- 
five thousand persons, when one says that 
this is wrong, that this wrong lies at the bottom 
of all social injustice, including the wrongs of 
women, the highly respectable newspapers cry, 
"Socialist agitator, stirrer of class strife!*' 
Well, let us agitate, let us confess that we 
are thoroughgoing Social Democrats or any- 
thing else that they please to label us. But 
let us keep our eyes on the central fact, that a 


few, a few British men own the majority of 
British men and all British women. The few 
own the many because they possess the means 
of livelihood of all. In our splendid republic, 
where at election time all are ^Hree and equal," 
a few Americans own the rest. Eighty per 
cent, of our people live in rented houses, and 
one half the rest are mortgaged. The coun- 
try is governed for the richest, for the corpora- 
tionsy the bankers, the land speculators, and 
for the exploiters of labour. Surely we must 
free men and women together before we can 
free women. 

The majority of mankind are working people. 
So long as their fair demands — the ownership 
and control of their lives and livelihood — 
are set at naught, we can have neither men's 
rights nor women's rights. The majority 
of mankind are groimd down by industrial 
oppression in order that the small remnant 
may live in ease. How can women hope to 
help themselves while we and our brothers 
are helpless against the powerful organizations 
which modem parties represent, and which 
contrive to rule the people? They rule the 


people because they own the means of physical 
life, land, and tools, and the nourishers of 
intellectual life, the press, the church, and the 
school. You say that the conduct of the woman- 
sufifragists is being disgracefully misrepresented 
by the British press. Here in America the 
leading newspapers misrepresent in every pos- 
sible way the struggles of toiling men and women 
who seek relief. News that reflects ill upon 
the employers is skillfully concealed — news 
of dreadful conditions under which labourers 
are forced to produce, news of thousands of 
men maimed in mills and mines and left 
without compensation, news of famines and 
strikes, news of thousands of women driven 
to a life of shame, news of little children com- 
pelled to labour before their hands are ready 
to drop their toys. Only here and there in 
a small and as yet uninfluential paper is the 
truth told about the workman and the fearful 
burdens under which he staggers. 

I am indignant at the treatment of the brave, 
patient women of England. I am indignant 
when the women cloakmakers of Chicago are 
abused by the police. I am filled with anguish 


when I think of the degradation, the enslave- 
ment and the industrial tyranny which crush 
millions, and dra^ down women and helpless 

I know the deep interest which you and 
your husband always took in God's poor, and 
your sympathy invites me to open my heart 
to you and express these opinions about grave 


Your letter interested me very much, and 
I would gladly tell you how to become a writer 
if I knew. But alas! I do not know how to 
become one myself. No one can be taught to 
write. One can leam to write if he has it in 
him; but he does not learn from a teacher, 
counsellor, or adviser. No education, however 
careful and wise, will furnish talent. It only 
gives material to one who has talent to work 
with. If I could explain the process and com- 
mand the secrets of this strange elusive faculty, 
the first thing I should do would be to write the 
greatest novel of the century, an epic and a 
volume of sonnets thrown in. I should at 
once set about making great writers of some 
hundreds and thousands of Americans. I 
should "stump" the States and get bills passed 
for the promotion of high-grade literature. 

*k letter to a bUnd boy. Printed in tbe WoMi Wwk. 
April, 1910. 



I should see to it that among our national 
products authors with noble powers had the 
chief place. 

I believe the only place to look for the 
information you desire is in the biographies 
of successful authors. As far as I know, one 
fact is common to them all. In their youth 
they read good books and began writing in a 
simple way. They kept the best models of 
style before them. They played with words 
until they could criticise their own com- 
positions and strike out dull or badly managed 
passages. They journeyed on, now taking a 
step forward, impelled by the desire to write, 
now at a standstill, held back by defects of 
style or lack of ideas. One day they wrote 
a real book, they awoke to find that they had 
a literary gift — the idea had come, and they 
were prepared to express it! I would suggest 
that you read the autobiographies of Benjamin 
Franklin and Anthony Trollope. In these 
books the authors tell us, not how they learned 
to write — that was a thing not in their power 
to divulge — but what steps they took to im- 
prove their powers. And simple steps they 


are, such as you and I can follow. Mr. Macy's 
new book, "A Guide to Reading/' may also be 
useful to you. 

You see, there is but one road to authorship. 
It remains forever a way in which each man 
must go a-pioneering. The struggles of the 
pen may be as severe as those of the axe and 
hammer. One needs right mental eyes to 
discern the signs of talent which writers have 
left on their pages, like so many "' blazes" 
upon trees in the forest. Well! I am not a 
novelist or a poet, I fear, and that metaphor 
is running away with me. What I mean is, we 
can follow where literary folk have gone; 
but, in order to be authors ourselves, to be 
followed, we must strike into a path where 
no one has preceded us. Before we publish 
anything, or set ourselves up as writers, we 
may imitate and even copy to our hearts' 
content, and when the time comes for us to 
send forth a message to the world, we shall 
have learned how to say it. 

From your letter I judge that you do not 
read with your fingers. You can do this, and 
you ought to learn as soon as possible. You 


are indeed fortunate that your parents can 
read aloud to you. But there is danger in 
only hearing language, and never seeing or 
touching it. Your memory will do you all 
the more service if you have embossed words 
placed at your finger-ends. Then reading for 
yourself will give you a better sense of language, 
and a good sense of words is the very basis of 


The annual meeting of tliis association 
gives us another opportunity to discuss among 
ourselves, and to present to the public, the 
needs and interests of the adult blind, and I 
am glad to avail myself of the opportunity. 
This question of helping the blind to support 
themselves has been near to my heart for many 
years, since long before the formation of this 
society. All I have learned on the subject in 
the books I have read, I have stored up in my 
mind against the day when I should be able 
to turn it to the use of my blind fellows. That 
day has come. 

I have heard that some people think the 
views I am expressing on this subject, and 
indeed on all subjects, are not my own, but 
Miss Sullivan's. If you please, I do very often 

* Presented at the first annual meeting of tlie Massachusetts 
Association for Promoting the Interests of the Adult Blind, 
January 5, 1904, in Boston. 


express Miss Sullivan's ideas, just as to the 
best of my ability I express ideas which I 
have been fortunate enough to gather from 
other wise sources — from the books I have 
read, from the friends with whom I talk, even 
from the poets, the prophets, and the sages. 
It is not strange that some of my ideas come 
from the wise one with whom I am most inti- 
mate and to whom I owe all that I am. I re- 
joice for myself and for you if Miss Sullivan's 
ideas are commingled with mine. The more 
on that account ought what I say to receive 
your respectful consideration; for Miss Sulli- 
van is acquainted with the work of the blind 
and the work for the blind. She was blind 
once herself, and she spent six years in the 
Perkins Institution. She has since proved a 
successful teacher of the blind. Other teach- 
ers from all over the world have sought her 
out and exchanged views with her. So Miss 
Sullivan's ideas on the matter we have to con- 
sider are those of an expert. But may I ven- 
ture to protest I have some ideas of my own? 
It is true I am still an undergraduate, and I 
have not had time to study the problems of 


the blind so deeply as I shall some day. I 
have, however, thought about these problems, 
and I know that the time is ripe, nay, it ha3 
long been ripe, to provide for the adult blind 
the means of self-support. 

The blind are in three classes: first, blind 
children, who need a common school educa- 
tion; second, the aged and the infirm blind, 
who need to be tenderly cared for; third, the 
able-bodied blind, who ought to work. For 
the first class, blind children, this state has 
splendidly provided in that great two-million 
dollar school, the Perkins Institution. The 
second class, like all other people who are in- 
valid and infirm, must be sheltered in the em- 
brace of many public and private charities. 
For the third class, healthy adult blind, nothing 
adequate has been done in this state. They 
do not want to go to school and read books. 
They do not want to be fed and clothed and 
housed by other people. They want to work 
and support themselves. The betterment of 
this class is the object of our association. We 
ask that the State give the adult blind oppor- 
tunity to earn their own living. We do not 


approve any system to pauperize them. We 
are not asking for them a degrading pension 
or the abstract glories of a higher education. 
We want them apprenticed to trades, and we 
want some organized method of helping them 
to positions after they have learned these 

Consider the condition of the idle adult 
blind from the point of view of their fellow- 
citizens, and from their own point of view. 
What sort of citizens are they now? They 
are a public or a private burden, a bad debt, 
an object of pitying charity, an economic loss. 
What we ask for them, in the name of Christian 
philanthropy, we ask equally on the ground of 
economic good sense. If there are three thou- 
sand adult blind in this Commonwealth who 
could be taught to work, and who are not work- 
ing, to keep them alive means a burden of 
ten or twelve thousand dollars every seven 
days. If each of the three thousand could be 
taught to work and earn three dollars a week 
— surely a low figure — the State would obvi- 
ously be twenty or twenty-five thousand dollars 
a week richer. At present the adult blind 


form a large class who are unremunerative 
and unprofitable. 

Such they are from the point of view of the 
thoughtful citizen. What are they from their 
point of view? 

Not merely are they blind — that can be 
-borne — but they live in idleness, 'which is the 
crudest, least bearable misery that can be laid 
upon the human heart. No anguish is keener 
than the sense of helplessness and self-con- 
denmation which overwhelms them when they 
find every avenue to activity and usefulness 
closed to them. If they have been to school, 
their very education makes their sorrow keener 
because they know all the more deeply what 
they have lost. They sit with folded hands 
as the weary days drag by. They remember 
the faces they used to see, and the objects 
of delight which made life good to live, and 
above all they dream of work that is more satis- 
fying than all the learning, all the pleasures 
gained by man, work that unites the world in 
friendly association, cheers solitude, and is the 
balm of hurt minds. They sit in darkness 
thinking with pain of the past, and with dread 


of the future that promises no alleviation of 
their suffering. They think until they can 
think no more, and some of them become 
morbid. The monotony and loneliness of their 
lives is conceivable only to those who have 
similar deprivations. I have enjoyed the ad- 
vantages of the blind who are taught. Yet, I 
used to feel unhappy many times, because it 
seemed as if my limitation would prevent me 
from taking an active part in the work of the 
world. Never did my heart ache more than 
when I thought I was not fit to be a useful 
member of society. Now I have found abun- 
dant work, and I ask for no other blessedness. 
I have talked with blind students at the 
institutions for the blind, and I remember the 
distress and perplexity with which they con- 
sidered how they should shift for themselves 
when they graduated. Many of them left 
school only to go back to poor, bare homes 
where they could find no means of self-sup- 
port. For seven, ten or fourteen years they 
live in the midst of refined surroundings; they 
enjoy good books, good music, and the society 
of cultivated people. When their school days 


are^over, they return to homes and conditions 
-which they have outgrown. The institution 
that has educated them forgets them, unless, 
perchance, they have sufficient ability to fight 
their life-battle single-handed and come out 
victorious. Institutions are proud of success- 
ful graduates. Let us not forget the failures. 
What benefit do the graduates who fail in the 
struggle of adult life derive from an education 
which has not been of a kind that could be 
turned to practical account? From an eco- 
nomic point of view has the money invested 
in that education been invested wisely? To 
teach Latin and Greek and higher mathematics 
to blind pupils, and not to teach them to earn 
their bread, is to build a house entirely of 
stucco, without stones to the walls or rafters 
to the roof. I have received letters from edu- 
cated blind people, who repeat the cry, "Give 
us work, or we perish," and their despair lies 
heavy on my heart. 

It is difficult to get satisfactory statistics 
about the blind after they graduate from the 
institutions where they receive a book educa- 
tion, because little or no interest is shown in 


them after they leave school. It is still harder 
to get information about the blind who have 
lost their sight when they are too old to go 
to the existing institutions. But it is evident 
that only a small portion of the blind now 
support themselves. A prominent teacher of 
the blind is reported to have said that less 
than 8 per cent, of the entire blind popula- 
tion of the United States, even those who 
have been to schools for the blind, are self- 
supporting, and the percentage for the whole 
country will be higher than the percentage 
for this State; for Massachusetts is behind 
some states in industrial education for the 
blind. Others will give you the exact figures. 
But whether there are in Massachusetts one 
thousand or five thousand adult blind who 
might be taught to work, they are too many 
for us to have neglected so long. 

It is diflScult to understand how a State 
which was a pioneer in the education of the 
blind, and which boasts the Perkins Institu- 
tion, could have so conspicuously failed to 
turn their education to account. Surely it is 
only an accidental division which has left onei 


side of the education of the blind in the sun- 
light where Doctor Howe placed it, and has left 
the other side in the dark. In spirit, all aspects 
of the education of the blind are one, and we 
can be sure that Doctor Howe, had he lived, 
would have been the leader of this movement, 
in which we are doing our little best. Indeed, 
I believe that he would long ago have rendered 
our labours imnecessary. Let us gratefully and 
lovingly render, in company with those who 
survive him, the honour that is his due. But 
since he is dead and cannot lead us, let us 
push forward, guided by what light we have. 
Wisdom did not die with Solomon. All knowl- 
edge about the needs and capabilities of the 
blind did not die with Doctor Howe. There 
is much to do which he did not live to achieve, 
or, it may even be, which he had not thought 

The important fact remains that nothing of 
consequence has been done for the adult blind 
in Massachusetts since Doctor Howe's day. 
It was he who established the workshop for the 
adult blind in South Boston, in connection with 
the Perkins Institution, and that remains much 


as he left it. Two or three years ago, the 
State appropriated a small sum of money — 
five thousand dollars, I think — for travelling 
teachers, who visit the homes of blind persons 
too old to go to the Perkins Institution. This 
was a step in the right direction, but it wais 
inadequate, and it is not altogether prac- 
tical. I have known old ladies who have 
told me how glad they were to learn to read 
the Lord's Prayer with their fingers. They 
looked forward to the weekly lesson with joy; 
it was a bright spot in the monotony of their 
life. But, after all, this is not so important 
as it is to teach younger and stronger men and 
women to earn their living. The needs df the 
adult blind cannot be covered by an extension 
of this appropriation or by a development of 
this kind of teaching. Something new is nec- 
essary. Either the scope of the workshop at 
South Boston must be greatly enlarged, or new 
ones, independent of it, must be established. 
It would have been no argument against f oimd- 
ing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
to say that there was already a good college 
across the Charles. He who is content with 


what has been done is an obstacle in the path 
of progress. 

Up! Up! Something must be done. We 
have delayed too long. If you want to know 
how long we have delayed, listen to what the 
Bishop of Ripon said recently at the Institution 
for the Blind in Bradford, England. Speaking 
of a time thirty years ago, he said : " The work- 
house and the charity of the passer-by in the 
street were the only hope of the blind. All 
thai has been changed. The blind have 
been taught useful occupations, and have 
been enabled in many cases to earn sufficient 
to maintain themselves in comfort, so that it 
has come to be a reproach that a blind man 
or woman should beg in the streets." This is 
the change in England in thirty years. There 
has been no such change in Massachusetts. 
Something must be done, that is clear. What 
shall we do? 

There are two things to do which work 
together and become one. First, let the State 
establish by an adequate appropriation an 
agency for the employment of the blind. This 
agency should be in Boston. At the head 


of it should be a competent man, whose sole 
duty should be to study all occupations in 
which the blind can engage, to exhibit the 
work of the blind, to advise and encourage 
them, and to bring employers and blind em- 
ployees together without expense to either. 
This bureau should do for the blind of Massa- 
chusetts what is done by the employment 
bureau of the British and Foreign Blind Asso- 
ciation in England, namely, provide a place 
in the busiest part of the city, where blind 
workers and their patrons can be brought to- 
gether and where articles made by the blind 
can be advantageously exhibited. The agent 
should advertise to the public that they can 
get blind piano tuners, notepaper embossers, 
shampooers, masseurs, chairmakers, brushmak- 
ers, tutors, singers, church organists, tea tast- 
ers, and other useful blind people. 

Then there is the second part of the work 
— to increase the variety and eflSciency of 
those other useful blind workers. This means 
industrial schools; that is, workshops, with aU 
possible machinery and appliances which the 
blind can profitably handle. To every blind 


person should be given opportunity to serve 
an industrial apprenticeship. After he has 
learned this trade, or that mechanical process, 
he would go to the agent at the employment 
bureau, or the agent would go to him, and the 
agent would then offer to employers the ser- 
vices of a blind workman. In each of the 
large manufacturing towns — Brockton, Lowell, 
Taunton, Lawrence, Worcester — there should 
be a branch of the agency. The head of each 
branch bureau should know all the industries 
peculiar to his locality, and should know the 
employers of the neighbourhood. 

Suppose at the 'age of thirty a man loses 
his sight, and that means that he must give 
up his work, let us say, as salesman in a dry- 
goods house. He goes to the nearest agent 
of the Massachusetts Industrial Bureau for 
the Blind. The agent knows every occupation 
in the State which it is profitable for a blind 
man to engage in, and he tells this man that 
the best occupation near his home is running 
a machine of a certain kind. The man then 
goes to the Industrial School for the Blind 
and learns to run that machine; in other words 


he serves an apprenticeship in a free state 
school, and incidentally learns the other things 
which a blind man must learn in order to 
adapt himself to the new conditions of his life; 
that is, he gets the experience of being blind. 
At the end of the apprenticeship the agents 
knowing what the man can do, goes to a man- 
ufacturer and asks that he give the man a 
chance. The agent stands behind the man 
during his period of probation, until the em- 
ployer is convinced that his blind workman 
understands his business. 

Am I dreaming dreams? It is no untried 
experiment. It is being done in Great Britain. 
Remember that to educate a blind man so that 
he becomes a competent workman is no mag- 
ical and mysterious process. A blind man can 
do nothing less and nothing more than what 
a person with five senses can do, minus what 
can be done only with the eye. Remember^ 
too, that when a man loses his sight he does 
not know himself what he can do. He needs 
some one of experience to advise him. The 
other day the commission listened to a blind 
man, forty years old, who lost his sight at the 


age of thirty-six, four years ago. Before he 
became blind, he had been a lithographer, and 
was for eight years a foreman. He testified 
that he was determined not to be a quitter, 
and that he had tried one and another kind of 
work, only to fail in each. "What," asked one 
of the commissioners, "do you think you can 
learn to do?" "I do not know," replied the 
man. Do we need a stronger argument for an 
industrial agency than this answer? Although 
inteUigent and industrious, this man had strug- 
gled wildly in the dark for four years, trying 
in vain to discover what kind of work he had 
best apply himself to. Think of it! In four 
years he had had no one to tell him what it was 
best for him to try to learn to do. 

Now who shall change all this? Who 
shall establish the Massachusetts Industrial 
Bureau for the Blind? Surely the State — 
Massachusetts, in whose watchtowers bum 
continuously the beacons of sympathy and 
love; Massachusetts, to whom every State in 
our country turns for example and guidance 
in education and philanthropy; Massachusetts, 
in whose beneficent institutions the deaf have 


learned to speak, the blind to read the printed 
page, the idiot day to think. Surely Massa- 
chusetts will not now turn a deaf ear to the 
cry of the helpless adult blind. Has she not 
lovingly nurtured and abundantly provided for 
the Perkins Institution and the Eandergarten 
for the Blind? Once the people learn what 
should be done, we need not fear that those 
whose authority is law and those whose au- 
thority is loving charity will neglect the sacred 
duty to raise the adult blind from dependence 
to self-respecting citizenship. Therefore I have 
complete faith in the ultimate triumph of our 


They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope at 
noonday as in the night. — Job v., 14. 

To present to seeing people the truth about 
the blind is to describe a state of cruel dep- 
rivation, and at the same time tell a story of 
remarkable achievement. It is difficult for 
those who have not felt the terrors of blindness 
or known its triumphs to apprehend the posi- 
tion and requirements of the sightless. A 
great deal has been said and written about the 
blind; and yet persons well informed on other 
matters display a mediaeval ignorance about 
those who cannot see. 

I have jcnown intelligent people who believed 
that the sightless can tell colours by touch, and 
it is generally thought that they have one or 
more senses given them in place of the one they 
have lost, and that the senses which of right 
belong t o them are more delicate and acute than 

* The YouUi*s Companion^ January 4, 1906, 



the senses of other people. Nature, herself, we 
are told, seeks to atone to the blind for their 
misfortune by giving them a singular sensitive- 
ness and a sweet patience of spirit. 

K this were really the case, it would be an 
advantage rather than an inconvenience to lose 
one's sight. But it is not the truth; it is a 
fiction which has its origin in ignorance, and 
in this ignorance the blind discover the most 
formidable obstacle in the way to usefulness 
and independence. Until the public in general 
better understands the condition of the blind, 
a condition to which every person is exposed 
by the vicissitudes of life, it will be impos- 
sible to give the blind the special assistance they 
require. Left without intelligent help, the 
blind man hves in a night of thwarted instincts 
and shackled ambitions. Given the right 
encouragement and aid, he becomes a brave, 
efficient being, independent himself and of 
service to others, triumphant over the bondage 
of darkness. 

What is blindness? Close your eyes for a 
moment. The room you are sitting in, the 
faces of your loved ones, the books that have 


been your friends, the games that have delighted 
you disappear — they all but cease to exist. Go 
to the window, keeping your eyes shut. God's 
^rorld — the splendour of sky and sun and 
moon, almost the charm of human life — 
lias vanished. 

Suppose your lids will not open again. What 
an unspeakable calamity has befallen you! 
You must begin your life all over in a strange 
dark world. You must learn to accommodate 
yourself little by little to the conditions of dark- 
ness. You will have to learn the way about 
your own house. With arms outstretched 
you must grope from object to object, from 
room to room. The tools of your work are 
snatched from your hands. Your school-books, 
if you are young, are useless. If you venture 
out-of-doors, your feet are shod with fear. You 
are menaced on every side by unseen dangers. 
The firm earth rolls under your uncertain step. 
The stars that guided your course are blotted 
out. You are a human derelict adrift on the 
world, borne as the currents may chance to set 
"imprisoned in the viewless winds." In the 
helplessness of your heart you cry out with 


the blind man on the plains of Syria, ^^Thou 
son of David, have mercy upon me!" 

In response to this piteous cry men have 
stretched forth their hands in sympathy. 
They could not open the blinded eyes as the 
Master did on the Syrian plains, but they 
wrought another miracle — they taught the 
blind to see with their hands. They could not 
stay the eclipse of sight, but they pierced the 
darkness with the light of knowledge. They 
raised up institutions — temples of compassion 
— where human skiU and science turn affliction 
and misery to service and happiness. 

Since the year 1784, when the Abb6 Valentin 
Hauy gathered together a few blind children 
from the streets of Paris and began the work of 
instructing them, the education of the sightless 
has been continued and extended, until its 
ever widening embrace of succour and enlighten- 
ment has reached the young blind of many 
countries. Homes and asylums have been 
provided for the aged and infirm blind. Gov- 
ernments and private philanthropy have united 
to provide the blind with libraries of embossed 


Indeed, so much has already been done that 
I am not surprised to hear you ask, "What 
good thing yet remains to do for the blind?'' 
I answer, "Help the adult blind to derive all 
the benefit possible from the education that has 
been so liberally given them. Help them to 
become efficient, useful citizens/' 

When blindness seizes a man in the midst of 
an active life, he has to face a greater misfor- 
tune than the child born blind or deprived of 
sight in the first years of life. Even if kind- 
ness and sympathy surround him, if his family 
is able to support him and care for him, he 
nevertheless feels himself a burden. He finds 
himself in the state of a helpless child, but with 
the heart and mind, the desires, instincts, and 
ambitions of a man. Ignorant of what blind 
men can do and have done, he looks about him 
for work, but he looks in vain. Blindness bars 
every common way to usefulness and indepen- 
dence. Almost every industry, the very machin- 
ery of society, the school, the workshop, the 
factory are all constructed and regulated on 
the supposition that every one can see. 

In the whirl and buzz of a lighted world the 


blind man, bewildered and helpless, sits 4own 
in despair, and resigns himself with bitter 
patience to a life of inactivity and dependence. 
It is true that some blind men — men blind from 
childhood or stricken with blindness in the midst 
of active lives — have succeeded in almost every 
known business and profession despite their 
misfortune. But they have been men of ex- 
ceptional capacity and energy. 

Homer, Ossian, and Milton wrote great 
poems with never a ray of light in their eyes. 
Henry Fawcett, professor of political economy 
at Cambridge University, a member of Par- 
liament for nineteen years, and, during Glad- 
stone's ministry, postmaster-general of Great 
Britain (he introduced many practical im- 
provements in the postal service, among them 
the parcels post); Leonhard Euler, the Swiss 
mathematician and astronomer, who conducted 
his vast calculations mentally, and who was a 
member of all the royal societies of learning in 
Europe; Frangois Huber, the naturalist, who 
was for a century the leading authority on bees; 
Augustin Thierry, the French historian, who 
wrote his great work on the Merovingians with 


the aid of others' eyes; and our own historian, 
William Hickling Prescott, are blind men who 
successfully kept in the forefront of life. . A 
distinguished Belgian statesman and writer, 
Alexander Rodenbach, Didymus of Alexan- 
dria, the preceptor of Saint Jerome, Diodotus, 
the Stoic, friend and teacher of Cicero, Ziska, 
the leader of the Bohemians in the Hussite War, 
who thrice defeated the Emperor's forces, 
did noble work after their eyes had ceased to 
know the light. Blind men have been musi- 
cians, road-builders, carpenters, wood-workers, 
journalists, editors, yacht-builders, and teachers 
of the blind and the seeing. 

These indomitable blind men wrought out 
their own salvation, and became the libera- 
tors of their afflicted fellows by proving what 
man can do in the dark by the light of courage 
and intelligence. For it must be seen that 
if an exceptional blind man, unaided by a 
special education in a school for the blind, 
can lead a life of service and distinction, an 
ordinary blind man without genius can be 
trained to do an ordinary man's work; and this 
tells us what yet remains to do for the blind. 


American commonwealths and philanthro- 
pists have always been generous to the blind. 
The states have provided excellent schools, 
generally based on sound and beneficent prin- 
ciples, for their blind children and youths. In 
many of these institutions the standard is 
high, and the pupils attain marked proficiency 
in all the common school branches. But for 
all the munificence of individual charity and 
the liberality of public endowment, the blind 
man is still lost to the community as a producer. 
Education, books, science, music do not ihake 
the blind happy unless they enable them to 
work. Philanthropy which only rears fine 
buildings equipped with the implements of 
learning, and does not render its beneficiaries 
stronger and more serviceable citizens, annuls 
by unwisdom the generosity that inspires it, 
and makes void its dtarity. 

Blind graduates of these schools have said to 
me, in the bitterness of disappointed hopes and 
ambitions, "It would have been better to 
leave us in ignorance than to enlighten and 
cultivate our minds only to plunge us into a 
double darkness. What boots it that we have 


spent our youth in kindergartens, museums, 
libraries, and music-rooms if we pass from those 
pleasant halls to sit with idle hands and eat 
the dry crust of discontent?" The time has 
come when strong and efficient measures 
shquld be taken in America to give the blind an 
opportimity to become self-supporting, or at 
least to earn a part of their suppoit. In an 
age when the ability to work is regarded almost 
as a test of respectability, it is a disgrace that 
any man should be forced to sit in idleness. 

The blind as a rule are poor. The parents 
of most of the children in the institutions 
for the blind are working people, and the man 
struck blind by accident or disease is usually 
a bread-winner. It is not uncommon for a 
young man to lose his sight in such occu- 
pations as stone-cutting, diamond-polishing, 
glazing, and blasting rocks. Without assist- 
ance, men thus blinded are doomed to invol- 
untary idleness for the rest of their lives. 

Up to the present day no adequate provision 
has been made for this class of blind persons 
in America, although Dr. Samuel G. Howe, 
the friend of all the afflicted and the pioneer in 


the education of the blind in the United States, 
outlined a plan to meet the industrial require- 
ments of the adult blind more than sixty years 
ago. No other American has understood the 
sightless so thoroughly as Doctor Howe. He 
knew their weakness and how they might be 
strengthened. All his efforts in their behalf 
and all that he wrote about them show his 
discerning love and wisdom. He was one 
of the first to realize that there is something 
better even than feeding the hungry and 
clothing the naked, that it is a greater kindness 
to help them feed and clothe themselves. 
I do not know how I can better indicate the 
way in which the blind should be helped than 
by giving a summary of Doctor Howe's con- 

"If every child bom into the community/' 
says Doctor Howe, "has a right to food for 
his body and knowledge for his mind, then has 
he a right to some useful employment, for 
without it food and knowledge become but 
curses; they had better have been withheld." 
' Upon this broad and humane principle he 
organized the Perkins Institution for the Blind 


in Boston. Its first object was to instruct 
and enlighten the young blind, its second to 
enable the blind to earn their own livelihood. 
Accordingly, in 1840, he established a work 
department where those who had finished 
their education could pursue for their own 
profit the trades they had learned in school. 

His annual reports furnish an interesting 
account of the ups and downs of his experiment. 
TVhen a new enterprise is undertaken, it often 
happens that obstacles and difficulties are 
disregarded which later compel us to pause and 
consider. In the first enthusiasm of his work 
in behalf of the blind, Doctor Howe confidently 
expected that the great majority of the blind 
would be able to support themselves by means 
of their brains — they would be musicians, 
teachers, journalists, and ministers of the gospel. 
The less gifted blind could earn their living by 
manual labour, with a little assistance and 
direction from their alma mater. 

These expectations were doomed to disap- 
pointment. Not all blind persons are highly 
gifted. They do not all possess musical talent 
or extraordinary intellectual capacity; nor do 


they all have the energy and perseverance 
necessary to overcome the heavy handicap that 
they encounter at the start. If all the blind 
were Miltons and Rodenbachs, they would need 
no such champion as Doctor Howe — no Moses 
would be necessary if there were no wilder- 

But although disappointed and often dis- 
couraged. Doctor Howe did not lose heart. 
Experience taught him the real wants of the 
blind and the best way to meet them. The 
failure of his high expectations showed him 
the imperative necessity of training the blind 
for some useful if less ambitious occupation. 
He urged that the institutions should supple* 
ment their instruction by aiding their graduates 
in their attempts to become self-supporting. 

The institutions, that is, should be the 
capitalists of the blind, but should seek no 
pecuniary advantage for themselves. They 
should be willing to make a considerable outlay 
in the beginning, and indeed to the end, if 
necessary. Their object should be to aid the 
blind to counteract the disadvantages under 
which they work by bringing them as near as 


possible to an equality of opportunity with 
other workmen. 

Such were Doctor Howe's views when he 
opened a workshop for blind adults under the 
auspices of the Perkins Institution. The aim 
of the workshop was to give the blind the ad- 
vantages which seeing workmen have — of 
working in a company, of saving rent and fuel 
and other incidental expenses, of having capital, 
and obtaining their stock at wholesale cost, 
and getting their produce cheaply marketed. 
The shop, said Doctor Howe, should train them 
in diligence and skill; then if the world did not 
offer a field for the exercise of their talents, the 
institution should try to open one for them. 

At the end of five years we find Doctor 
Howe optimistic about his experiment, and full 
of plans to extend the work so as to include a 
salesroom in the dty for the reception and sale 
of articles made by the blind at home. Indeed, 
he looked forward to the foundation of an 
establishment broad enough to meet the wants 
of all the blind of New England. Would such 
an establishment, providing for so many per- 
sons, support itself? he asked. The answer 


was uncertain; but he argued tliat even if very 
few of tlie blind succeeded in becoming fully 
self-supporting, it was still good economy to 
enable them to earn as much of their support 
as possible. The State should help them indi- 
rectly in this way rather than pay their board 
and lodging. But, after all, the first considera- 
tion of a wise commonwealth is not economy, 
but the good of all its citizens. 

We must cross the Atlantic and visit the Old 
World in order to find a practical demonstration 
of what the blind can do. ^he first institution 
for the employment of the blind was founded 
at Edinburgh in 1793. Since then workshops, 
salesrooms, and associations or agencies to pro- 
mote the business interests of the blind have 
been established in Europe. 

In Europe the emphasis has been upon 
industrial training, while in America more 
attention has been given to book education. 
When a pupil in a school for the blind in Eng- 
land or France shows no special apititude 
for music or intellectual pursuits, he is put 
into the work department, where he learns a 
trade. Afterward the institution, or one of 


the agencies for the purpose in his country, 
seeks out a position for him, and stands by 
him imtil he has proved his eflSidency. On the 
other hand, when a student shows marked 
ability in any direction, he receives opportunity 
to fit himself for a more responsible position. 

If a school for the blind has trained an 
organist who is capable of filling a church 
position, the agencies for the blind keep a 
lookout for a vacancy. 

When the agent hears of one, he goes to 
the place and tells the church committee 
of a blind man who is competent to fill the 
position. The committee is probably very 
skeptical and very reluctant to try so doubt- 
ful an experiment. The agent, however, is 
eloquent, and persuades the committee to 
give the man a trial. The man comes, plays, 
and conquers. 

In London there is a tea agency of which 
the managers are wholly or partially blind. 
Many blind agents are selling its teas, coffees, 
and cocoas in all parts of England. 

Last June there was held in Edinburgh an 
exhibition of the work of the blind all over the 


world. A whole floor was devoted to weaving- 
machines and typewriters, and blind people 
demonstrated their skill as weavers, masseurs, 
carpenters, and musicians. At the Glasgow 
Asylum the blind have produced salable articles 
for eighty years, and in three recent years the 
average annual sales amoimted to twenty-nine 
thousand pounds sterling. 

In English cities from 6 to 13 per cent, of 
the blind are in workshops, whfle in America, 
of sixty-four thousand bUnd persons only six 
hundred, or 1 per cent., are employed in indus- 
trial establishments. 

But a brighter day dawned for the blind in 
America when New York and Massachusetts 
awoke to the necessity of looking into the con- 
dition of the sightless. Connecticut, Pennsyl- 
vania, Wisconsin, California, and Michigan are 
all active in the effort to make wage-earners of 
the blind. The nature of the work which has 
begun, and should be extended as rapidly as 
possible, is represented by the endeavours of 
the Massachusetts Association to Promote the 
Interests of the Adult Blind. 

This association has opened an experiment 


station in Cambridge, to find and test industries 
that seem practicable for the sightless. The 
blind are sought out in their homes, and when 
possible they are taught trades, their work is 
brought to the notice of the public, and the 
capacity of blind men and women to operate 
certain automatic machines in factories is dem- 
onstrated to employers. 

Hitherto the chief industries of the blind 
have been the manufacture of brooms, mat- 
tresses, baskets, brushes, and mats, not all of 
which are profitable in this country. The 
eflFort should be to increase the number of pos- 
sible lucrative occupations for the sightless. 

A yoimg blind man was trained at the station 
in Cambridge in ten days to cut box comers in 
a paper and tag factory to the satisfaction of 
his employer. Another young man has suc- 
ceeded in taking, by means of a shorthand 
writing machine, acceptable interviews for a 
newspaper. A young blind woman was taken 
from the poorhouse, where she had been for 
three years, and placed in a hairpin factory, 
where she has found work that she is capable 
of doing. 


The experiment station is now at work on a 
patented mop invented by a blind man. This 
^* Wonder mop" can be made entirely without 
sight, and the plan is to have blind agents 
from Maine to California seU it. H the mop 
proves as successful as it now promises to be, 
it will go a long way toward solving the indus- 
trial problem of the blind in this country. 

What the blind workman needs is an industry 
that will enable him to produce something that 
people will buy, not out of pity for him, but 
because it is useful or beautiful. The blind 
wiU not lack for customers if theu- articles are 
of the best material, design, and workmanship. 

The little group of workers at the experiment 
station have received more orders for their 
beautiful rugs, sofa pillows, and table covers 
than their limited means and inadequate space 
enable them to fill promptly. Workers for 
the blind have found both manufacturers and 
employers ready and glad to cooperate with 
them when they understand that it is oppor- 
tunity and not charity that is asked. 

There is no law on the statute-books compel- 
ling people to move up closer on the bench of 


life to make room for a blind brother; but there 
is a divine law written on the hearts of men 
constraining them to make a place for him, 
not only because he is unfortunate, but also 
because it is his right as a human being to 
share God's greatest gift, the privilege of man 
to go forth unto his work. 


We all know that a large number of people 
become blind every year. But it is not 
generally^ known that many human eyes are 
needlessly lost which, if right corrective and 
preventive measures were employed, would be 
saved to the service of the world. And what 
we should know, in particular, is that much of 
this blindness can be prevented by the mothers 

We live in an epoch of reform. I read that 
men and women axe vahantly contending 
against the greed and neglect that condemn 
thousands of children to dwarf their minds and 
bodies in labour; I hear that we are striving 
to protect ourselves against impure food and 
dangerous "patent medicines." But of all 
ignorance which needs to be dispelled by the 
spirit of regeneration among us, none is more 
intolerable than that which wantonly permits 

*The Ladiea^ Home Journal, January, 1907. 



children to be plunged into the abyss of blind* 

Two fifths of all blindness could have been 
prevented by precautionary or curative treat- 
ment. Of this, one quarter, or one tenth of 
the whole, is due to what is called "ophthalmia 
neonatorum" — that is, **infantile ophthalmia/' 

"What is ophthalmia neonatorum?" It is 
an inflammation of the eyes which attacks the 
new-bom child and is one of the most prolific 
causes of blindness. It is occasioned by germs 
finding an entrance in the eyes of the child 
during the process of birth. In from twenty- 
four to sixty hours after the birth of the child 
whose eyes have been infected the eyes grow 
red and a watery secretion comes from the lids. 
This soon grows thicker and more profuse 
until a creamy discharge pours out from the 
eyes. The lids become swollen, hard and red. 
If this condition is allowed to continue, the 
eyeballs become ulcerated until finally they 
rupture and the child in many cases becomes 

All this can be prevented. If, at the time 
of birth, the baby's eyelids are gently wiped 


dry with a little absorbent cotton and the 
lids held open while the eyes are flushed with a 
saline solution — as warm and as salt as normal 
tears — the malignant germs may he washed 
away and the danger averted. 

But as it is not always possible for those 
with untrained hands to accomplish this 
skilfully and thoroughly, and as under any 
circumstances we cannot be certain that all 
of the virulent microscopic germs are removed, 
it is necessary as a further step that one or two 
drops of a solution of nitrate of silver of a deter- 
mined strength be dropped in each eye of 
the new-bom child. Should a strong solu- 
tion be used, as it may be by the physician, 
it should be immediately neutralized by a few 
drops of slightly salted boiled water; with a 
weaker solution this neutralization is not 
necessary. This silver preparation destroys the 
germs without injuring the eyes and its use 
practically eliminates this frightful disease as 
a cause of blindness. 

As it is never possible to know in which 
baby's eyes the germs have found lodgment, 
and as the use of the silver is safe and sure. 


the preventive solution should be invariably 
employed at every birth. To delay or omit it 
is to invite unnecessary danger. 

It happens, however, in a few cases, even 
where silver nitrate is used, that some of the 
microbes escape destruction and remain to 
threaten the sight. This does not mean that 
all is lost, that the child's chances are gone. 
The same remedy judiciously applied at a 
suflSiciently early period in the progress of the 
disease and under competent medical advice 
will destroy the germs and thereby control the 
inflanunation and still prevent blindness. 

Since the value and importance of this 
measure is universally conceded, and its em- 
ployment conmiended by the medical pro- 
fession, it would seem remarkable that it does 
not form a part of the toilet of every new- 
bom child, and the inquiry is naturally sug- 
gested: why is it not always employed in 
the eyes of the new-bom? How can it ever 
happen that so simple a preventive measure 
can be omitted, when its neglect leads to such 
disastrous consequences? In almost all the 
large hospitals and in the practice of nearly 


every careful scientific physician it is, indeed, 
a routine measure, but ignorance, indiflference, 
and negligence are still abroad in the land, 
and until those shall be aroused who feel a 
moral responsibility in defending the rights of 
the helpless infant thus cruelly assailed, babies 
will be blinded and lives will be blighted, world 
without end. 

There would seem to be three reasons why 
every physician (and every midwife who takes 
the physician's responsibilities at a birth) 
does not invariably employ a silver solution in 
the eyes of every new-bom child: first, many 
who have to deal with the expectant mother 
are not acquainted with the character of this 
germ disease and have not yet learned the 
importance and necessity of preventive meas- 
ures; others hesitate to employ this valuable 
specific from a wrong impression that it may 
harm the tender eye of the infant child; but 
the neglect in far the greater number of cases 
is due to the fact that the silver solution does 
not happen to be present at the moment at 
which it is needed, and as the' majority of 
children escape infection, the chance is taken 


that each child may be one of the fortunate. 
The propitious moment at which the silver 
nitrate might be efiFectively employed is allowed 
to pass, and when next the opportunity comes 
it may be too late. 

In order that this pitiable condition be not 
allowed to continue, two things should be done 
at once. A campaign of education should be 
inaugiurated and every expectant mother should 
be made acquainted with the peril which may 
threaten her child so that she may insist that 
it be protected; and then the State should 
freely and gratuitously place in the hands of 
every accoucheur an aseptic silver solution 
that carries with it the assurance on the part 
of the highest medical authority as to its 
necessity, its purity, and its safety. 

There is but one reason why this great move- 
ment should not quickly and efiFectively suc- 
ceed in abolishing infantile ophthalmia as a 
cause of blindness, and that is — general 
apathy. In order that the necessary and uni- 
form legislation be secured in every State, 
efforts must be made. The mothers in every 
State must demand it. In every class of 


society the women should know of the cause 
and dangers of this disease. 

If the mothers of America could be made to 
realize that their babies are in danger of losing 
their sight, and that the dread calamity can be 
warded off by applying a simple, precautionary 
remedy at the right time, they would be quick 
to demand of those in authority that the 
symptoms of the disease shall be known by 
those whose duty it is to know them, and that 
for safety the remedy shall be at hand before 
the symptoms appear. 

A careful examination of the children of the 
New York School for the Blind for several 
years showed that among city children ophthal- 
mia neonatorum causes one case of blindness in 
three. In the country the relative niunber of 
cases resulting from infantile ophthahnia is 
greater than in the cities. The reason for this 
is that, though the disease is widespread, a 
physician in a small community may never 
have seen a case. He may not recognize the 
disease if it appears. If he knows about the 
nitrate of silver treatment he may fail to use it 
because he wrongly fears that it may injure 


the delicate eyes of the child. He may not 
see the child again for several days; then the 
disease has got beyond his control. The 
cornea is destroyed and the infant's sight irre- 
coverably lost! The safe rule for physicians 
is to regard with suspicion the slightest m^ 
flammation in the eyes of an infant, and it is 
the rule for mothers, too; for the mother who 
is watchful and informed will know how to make 
the right demand upon her physician. 

The mother thinks with joy and pride that 
her child will grow in God's light to be a strong 
man, able to do a man's work. Suddenly 
she is plimged into the crudest anguish by the 
discovery that her child's beautiful eyes are 
put out forever. Not till then does she realize 
how terrible is the foe that has lurked by his 
cradle. Imagine her feelings if afterward she 
learns that this disaster was needless, that it 
could have been avoided by prompt, efficient 
measures. Her grief is embittered by indigna- 
tion against the physician in whose hand she 
had placed the safety of her child. Whatever 
may be done to soften the misfortune of the 
child, her heart will never be whole again. 


Blindness in infancy is worse in some ways 
tlian blindness in late childhood, or even in 
adult life. It arrests development. The plight 
of the blind baby is indeed heartrending. He 
loses much of the physical activity and incentive 
and the various intellectual experiences of the 
normal child. Even in the best of homes it is 
not often possible to give him the special, 
constant care, teaching and encouragement that 
he requires. He is not admitted to the kinder- 
garten for the blind, if there be one, until he is 
five years old. In the meantime he grows weak 
and deformed in body and mind, and acquires 
nervous habits which it is extremely hard to 
break when his education begins. Your heart 
aches as you look at him, feeble, pitiful, en- 
ervated, beside his strong, merry comrades 
who have lost their sight at a later period, and 
who can go forward with firm steps where he 
halts and stumbles. Even if he is successfully 
taught, and develops capabilities, even if he is 
not doomed in his mature years, as are so 
many of the blind, to idleness and dependence, 
his loss of sight is irreparable. A blind person, 
however well instructed, however carefully 


equipped, can never be so free, so self-reliant 
as if he had his eyes. In this country, until 
very recently, little has been done to enable the 
grown-up blind to work for a livelihood, to 
earn their limited share of independence and 
self-support. They are for the most part poor, 
and if no relative or friend cares for them they 
become objects of charity, a burden to the 
State. Such is the lot of thousands of men and 
women who a generation ago needlessly lost 
their sight. Such is the fate that threatens 
our little ones to-day. 

It is true that we are preparing to take better 
and better care of the blind. Intelligent work 
is going forward all over the country to lighten 
the burden of blindness. But, however merry 
our blind children, however brave and self- 
reliant our blind men, I say, could the utmost 
dreams of education for the sightless be realized, 
the dark is still the dark, and blindness an 
irremediable calamity. 

Therefore I say, let us check this dread dis- 
ease and danger. The State should require 
that every case of disease of the eye in the new- 
bom be reported. If blindness follows, then 


an investigation should be instituted. The 
certainty that such an investigation would surely 
follow would compel physician and nurse to 
exercise the utmost care in the treatment of the 

By such vigilance on the part of the Common- 
wealth hundreds of individuals would be 
spared misery and dependence, and the Com- 
monwealth itself would be saved expense. The 
entire cost of preventing ophthalmia is indeed 
an ounce of prevention to the many pounds 
that avoidable blindness costs the State. The 
cost of educating a blind child in a good school 
is three hundred dollars a year. The special 
expense necessary to make a blind man self- 
supporting, even in conditions far better 
than now exist, must be an extra expense to the 
State. If, as is the too common case, a blind 
citizen becomes dependent through a long life, 
the average sum spent for his maintenance is 
ten thousand dollars. This sum must be 
multiplied many times to determine the total 
loss; for by blindness a productive breadwinner 
is removed from the community. 

If a tithe of the money we now spend to 


support unnecessary blindness were spent to 
prevent it, the State would be the gainer in 
terms of cold economy, not to speak of con- 
siderations of happiness and humanity. How, 
then, can a wise Commonwealth suffer a 
single case of avoidable blindness to pass 
unquestioned? We pay money in advance to 
insure our property and the property value of 
our lives. Yet we have not the foresight to 
insure our children against the bitter and costly 
evil of blindness! 

In ancient times disease was looked upon as a 
curse to be conjured away. Later it was 
regarded as a necessary misfortune to be cured 
or alleviated. In our own time it is known to be 
the result of wrong living, and therefore to be 
avoided and prevented. Prevention has come 
to be the all-important aim of medical science. 
The fight to exterminate yellow fever and tuber- 
culosis is a greater battle than any that the 
doctors have waged against disease after it has 
seized upon the patient. If our physicians 
have undertaken to exterminate so subtle 
an enemy as tuberculosis, they should make 
short work of ophthalmia neonatorum, which 


is obvious and easily cured. To do battle 
with it our physicians must march as soldiers 
have gone forth before, ordered by the State 
and urged on by women. American women can 
accomplish almost anything that they set 
their hearts on, and the mothers of the land 
together with the physicians can abolish 
infantile ophthalmia, yes, wipe it out of the 
civilized world. 


In behalf of the Massachusetts Commission 
for the Blind I welcome to Boston this asso- 
ciation of workers for the sightless. The 
purpose of our convention which represents 
every movement to better the condition of the 
blind, is to secure cooperation between the 
institutions and societies which are concerned 
in our problem. I know that good will come 
of our taking counsel together. I feel that 
we have the fair-mindedness to look at facts 
squarely, and the courage to set out hopefully, 
on the long road which stretches before us. 

Our problem is complicated, and has more 
sides than isolated effort, however zealous, 
can compass. We must see to it that in 
the diversity of interests one class of the 
blind is not overlooked for the sake of another, 
or any part of the work undervalued. 

*Addre88 at the annual convention of the American Association 
of Workers for the Blind, Boston, August 27, 1907. 



The workshop, the library of embossed 
books, the home for the aged blind, the nursery, 
the kindergarten and the school are seen to be 
parts of a system with one end in view, I 
rejoice that there is assembled here a company 
of men and women determined to take to heart 
all the needs of all the blind, and in the name 
of the blind and of the State whose commission 
I represent I bid you welcome. 

We have been forced to realize the short- 
comings of our system, or lack of system, 
wherein faithful workers go in opposite di- 
rections, each hugging a private book of em- 
bossed type, or the plans of an institution 
which is to be the best and only seat of sal- 
vation for the blind. Let us draw our forces 
together. However we differ in the details 
of our work, let us unite in the conviction 
that the essential thing is to give the blind 
something they can do with brain and hand. 
The higher education, in which some of us are 
particularly interested, depends largely on 
early training in childhood, on healthy sur- 
roundings at school, on physical happiness, 
play, and out-of-door exercise. 


Besides the young blind, for whom existing 
institutions are intended to provide, there 
is the numerous class of active, useful men and 
women who lose their sight in mature years. 
Those who are in the dark from childhood 
are hard pressed by obstacles. But the man 
suddenly stricken blind is another Samson, 
bound captive, helpless imtil we unloose his 

This association may become an organ- 
ized power which wiU carry knowledge of 
the needs of the blind to every comer of the 
country. It may bring about cooperation, 
and good-will between schools, associations 
and all sincere workers for the sightless. It 
may start or stimulate efficient work in States 
which are yet in original darkness. Blindness 
must always remain an evil, whatever we 
do to make it bearable. We must strike 
at the root of blindness and labour to diminish 
and prevent it. 

The problem of prevention shotdd be dealt 
with frankly. 

Physicians, as we are glad to see they are 
doing, shall take pains to disseminate knowledge 


needful for a dear understanding of the causes 
of blindness. 

The time for hinting at unpleasant truths 
is past. Let us insist that the States put into 
practice every known and approved method of 
prevention, and that physicians and teachers 
open the doors of knowledge wide for the people 
to enter in. The facts are not agreeable 
reading, often they are revolting. But it is 
better that our sensibilities should be shocked 
than that we should be ignorant of facts 
upon which rest sight, hearing, intelligence, 
morals and the life of the children of men. 

Let us do our best to rend the thick curtain 
with which society is hiding its eyes from un- 
pleasant but needful truth. No organization 
is doing its duty that only bestows charity 
and does not also communicate the knowledge 
which saves and blesses. 

We read that in one year Lidiana has ap- 
propriated over a million dollars to aid and 
increase institutions for the blind, the deaf, 
the insane, the feeble-minded, the epileptical. 
Surely the time has come for us to ask plain 
questions and to receive plain answers. While 


we do our part to alleviate present disease, 
let us press forward in the scientific study which 
shall reveal our bodies as sacred temples of the 

When the promises of the futiure are ful- 
filled and we rightly understand our bodies 
and our responsibilities toward unborn genera- 
tions, the institutions for defectives which 
are now our pride will become terrible monu- 
ments to our ignorance and the needless misery 
that we once endured. 


A yeax ago I wrote about the prevention 
of blindness. I wrote guardedly and with 
hesitation; for the subject was new to me, and 
I shrank from discussing before the general 
public a problem which hitherto had been 
confined to conferences of specialists. More- 
over, the subject was one of which a yoimg 
woman might be supposed to be ignorant, 
and upon which, certainly, she would not be 
expected to speak with authority. It is always 
painful to set one's self against tradition, 
especially against the conventions and prej- 
udices that hedge about womanhood. But 
continuous study of blindness has forced upon 
me knowledge of this subject, and, if I am 
to stand as an advocate of the work for the 
sightless, I cannot, without accusing myself 
of cowardice, gloss over or ignore the funda- 
mental evil. 

*The Ladies' Home JoutTud, January, 1909. 



Once I believed that blindness, deafness, 
tuberculosis and other causes of suffering were 
necessary, unpreventable. I believed that we 
must accept blind eyes, deaf ears, diseased 
lungs as we accept the havoc of tornadoes and 
deluges, and that we must bear them with as 
much fortitude as we could gather from rehgion 
and philosophy. But gradually my reading 
extended, and I found that those evils are to 
be laid not at the door of Providence, but at 
the door of mankind; that they are, in large 
measiure, due to ignorance, stupidity, and sin. 

The most common cause of blindness is 
ophthahnia of the new-bom. One pupa in 
every three at the institution for the blind in 
New York City was blinded in infancy by 
this disease. Nearly all of the sixteen babies 
in the Sunshine Home in Brooklyn, one fourth 
of the inmates of the New York State Home 
for the Blind, six himdred sightless persons in 
the State of New York, between six thousand 
and seven thousand persons in the United 
States, were plunged into darkness by ophthal- 
mia of the new-bom. The symptoms of the 
disease appear in the infant's eyes soon after 


birth. The eyelids swell and become red, 
and about the second day they discharge 
whitish pus. At this stage the eyes can be 
saved by the simplest prophylactic care. 
That such care is not always exercised is due 
to the fact that one half of the cases of child- 
birth in America are attended by midwives 
many of whom are ignorant and incompetent. 
In this country very little has been done to 
secure the proper education and examination 
of midwives; and they and the equally ignorant 
parents resort to poultices, nostrums^ and do- 
mestic remedies. 

There is a remedy for ophthalmia neona- 
torum. This is an instillation of nitrate of 
silver solution into the eyes of the child. 
It is efficacious if promptly and skilfidly 
applied. It is not, however, infallible, and in 
unskilful hands it may do great harm. The 
mother who sees in the eyes of her baby the 
symptoms which I have described should lose 
no time m summoning the assistance of aa 
intelligent physician. 

Let no one suppose that this is idle advice. 
In France and Germany the laws require that 


the eyes of every child shall be treated with 
nitrate of silver solution as soon as it is bom, 
and in those countries there has been a con- 
siderable decrease in blindness resulting from 
the scourge of ophthalmia neonatorum. And 
what do the wise lawmakers of America do? 
A bill for the prevention of blindness introduced 
recently in the Illinois Legislature failed to 
pass because it was argued that this was only 
another scheme of doctors to provide fees for 
themselves ! But, at best, the law is concerned 
only with the remedy. The people themselves, 
and only they, can wipe out the cause. 

What is the catise of ophthalmia neonatorum? 
It is a specific germ communicated by the 
mother to the child at birth. Previous to 
the child's birth she has unconsciously received 
it through infection from her husband. He has 
contracted the infection in licentious relations 
before or since marriage. "The crudest link 
in the chain of consequences," says Dr. Prince 
Morrow, "is the mother's innocent agency. 
She is made a passive, unconscious medium of 
instilling into the eyes of her new-bom babe a 
virulent poison which extinguishes its sight.** 


In mercy let it be remembered, the father 
does not know that he has so foully destroyed 
the eyes of his child and handicapped him for 
life. It is part of the bitter harvest of the 
wild oats he has sown. Society has smiled upon 
his "youthful recklessness*' because Society does 
not know that 

''They enslave their children's children who make 
compromise with sin." 

Society has yet to learn that the blind beggar 
at the street-comer, the epileptic child, the 
woman on the operating-table, are the wages 
of "youthful indiscretion.** To-day science is 
verifying what the Old Testament taught 
three thousand years ago, and the time has 
come when there is no longer the excuse of 
ignorance. Knowledge has been given us; 
it is our part to apply it. 

Of the consequences of social sin, blindness 
is by no means the most terrible. The same 
infection which blots out the eyes of the baby 
is responsible for many childless homes; for 
thousands of cases of lifelong invalidism; for 
80 per cent, of all inflammatory diseases pe- 


culiax to women; and for 75 per cent, of all oper- 
ations performed on mothers to save their lives. 

The day has come when women must face the 
truth. They cannot escape the consequences 
of the evil unless they have the knowledge that 
saves. Must we leave young girls to meet the 
danger in the dark because we daxe not turn 
the light upon our social wickedness? False 
delicacy and prudery must give place to precise 
information and common sense. It is high 
time to abolish falsehood and let the plain 
truth come in. Out with the cowardice which 
shuts its eyes to the immorality that causes 
disease and human misery I I am confident 
that when the people know the truth the day 
of deliverance for mother and child will be 
at hand. 

We must look to it that every child is 
protected before his birth. Every child has 
a right to be well bom. Every child has a 
right. to be told by his parents and teachers 
about his birth and his body; for in such knowl- 
edge lie true innocence and safety. Civiliza- 
tion is menaced by an insidious enemy. It 
must learn that only one cure is sure and cheap: 


right Eving, which God gives free to aU. And 
right Uving depends on right knowledge. 

We must set to work in the right direction 
the three great agencies which inform and 
educate us: the church, the school, and the 
press. If they remain silent, obdurate, they 
will bear the odiimi which recoils upon evildoers. 
They may not listen at first to our plea for 
light and knowledge. They may combine to 
baffle us; but there will rise, again and again, 
to confront them, the beseeching forms of 
little children: deaf, blind, crooked of limb, 
and vacant of mind. 

This is not faultfinding. I am not a pes- 
simist, but an optimist, by temperament and 
conviction. I am making a plea for American 
women and their children. I plead that the 
blind may see, the deaf may hear, and the 
idiot may have a mind. In a word, I plead 
that the American woman may be the mother 
of a great race. 

Throw aside, I beseech you, false modesty — 
the shame that shelters evil — and hasten the 
day when there shall be no preventable disease 
among mankind. 


I rejoice that the greatest of all work for 
the blmd — the saving of eyesight — has been 
so clearly laid before the public. The reports 
of progress in the conservation of eyes, of 
health, of life, and of all things precious to 
man, are as a trumpet blast summoning us to 
still greater effort. The devotion of physicians 
and laymen and the terrible needs of our 
fellow-men ought to hearten us in the fight 
against conquerable misery. 

Our worst foes are ignorance, poverty, and 
the unconscious cruelty of our commercial 
society. Th#se are the causes of blindness; 
these are the enemies which destroy the 
sight of children and workmen and undermine 
the health of mankind. So long as these en- 
emies remain unvanquished, so long wUl there 
be blind and crippled men and women. 

*iAddre88 at a meeting of The Massachusetts Association for 
Promoting the Interests of the Blind, Boston, Februaiy 14, 1911. 



To study the diseases and accidents which 
cause loss of sight, and to learn how the surgeon 
can prevent or alleviate them, is not enough. 
We should strive to put an end to the conditions 
which produce the diseases and accidents. 

This case of blindness, the physician says, 
resulted from ophthalmia. It was really caused 
by a dark, overca^owded room, by the indecent 
herding together of human beings in unsani- 
tary tenements. We are told that another 
case of blindness resulted from the bursting 
of a wheel. The true cause was an employer's 
failure to safeguard his machine. Investi- 
gations show that there are many ingenious 
safeguards for machinery which are not adopted 
because their adoption would diminish the 
manufacturer's profits. We Americans have 
been slow, dishonourably slow, in taking meas- 
ures for the protection of our workmen. 

Does it occur to any of you that the white 
lace which we wear is darkened by the failing 
eyes of the maker? The trouble is that most 
of us do not understand the essential relation 
between poverty and disease. I do not believe 
that there is any one in this City of Kind 


Hearts who would willingly receive dividends 
if he knew that they had been paid in part with 
blinded eyes and broken backs. If you doubt 
that there is any such connection between our 
prosperity and the sorrows of others, consult 
those bare but illuminating reports of industrial 
commissions and labour bureaus. They are 
less eloquent than oratory, less pleasant than 
fiction, but more convincing than either. In 
them you will find the fundaniental causes of 
much blindness and crookedness, of shrunken 
limbs and degraded minds. These causes 
must be further searched out, and every con- 
dition in which blindness breeds must be 
exposed and abolished. Let our battlecry be, 
"No preventable disease, no imnecessary pov- 
erty, no blinding ignorance among mankind." "^ 


For many centuries after the coming of 
Christ, blindness, deafness, and mental defects 
were regarded as the visitations of Providence, 
to be borne with meekness and fortitude. 
This old misreading of the message of Christian- 
ity stiU persists in some unhappy minds. There 
are mothers who object to having an afflicted 
child taught, lest the more he knows the less 
resigned he wiU be to a divine decree. Be- 
cently a case came to my knowledge of a 
devoted parent who kept a deaf girl out of 
school in order that she might not lose "her 
beautiful spirit of resignation." The truer 
Christianity teaches us that disease and igno- 
rance are not ultimate decrees of Heaven, 
and that such discontent a^ the first visions of 
light bring to the yearning soul is a divine 
discontent. The finest resignation and. sub- 
mission are not incompatible with heroic 

*The Ladies* Home Journal, April, 1908. 



contest against the forces of darkness. The 
old idea was to endure. This was succeeded 
by a better idea, to alleviate and cure. And 
that, in turn, has given way to the modem 
idea, to prevent, to root out diseases that 
destroy the sight, the hearing, the mind, the 
life and the morals of men. Physicians like 
Pasteur and Koch, soldiers like Major Walter 
Reed, and other men of the American Army who 
gave their lives in a grim war of extermination 
against disease — these are the leaders of a new 
cohort of crusaders who are fighting the true 
battle of God against the infidel. We know 
now that hospitals and institutions for defect- 
ives are not permanent temples of salvation. \ 
They are, rather, like temporary camp-sites 
along the way upon which the race is journey- 
ing toward a city where disease and darkness 
shall not be. 

I have already written about the prevention 
of imnecessary blindness. We know that much 
of it can be prevented by simple timely meas- 
ures. But so long as the laws of health and 
right living are violated, any mother may 
have the anguish of seeing her child's beautiful 



eyes closed to the light forever. Hence, all 
mothers, nurses, and teachers should have 
some knowledge of the methods of training 
blind children. On the American mother the 
schools for the blind — and for the seeing — 
depend for support, encouragement, intelligent 
criticism. Moreover, the work of the schools 
is helped or thwarted by the care which the 
children receive before they are old enough 
to go school. 

There are in this cotmtry thousands of blind 
children under school age. Many of them are 
growing up helpless, untrained, and suflFering 
from want of exercise and play. In order to 
understand their needs let us imagine what 
happens when a child loses his sight. He 
is suddenly shut out from all familiar things, 
from his games, his studies and the society of 
other children. The experience and incen- 
tive to action that come to us largely through 
the eye are arrested. The toys that erewhile 
charmed him with bright colours fall meaning- 
less from his little hands. The picture of 
tree or bird that he drew in the flush of delight 
in a newly acquired art is a blank to him. 


He "runs no more to gaze at the changing 
scenes of the city street or at the sights of the 
country that fly thick as driving rain. He has 
lost a world of stimuli, the free motion and the 
restless out-reachings of sense which animate 
ns from the earliest years. He ceases to 
imitate, because he sees nothing to imitate, 
and imitation is essential to growth. He no 
longer plays the king, the soldier, the sailor, 
the giant. 

He was but a recipient of life from life 
of impulses that pushed him to action. He 
listened to life, he saw it gleam, and every 
instinct within him felt a stir of might, and, 
grasping at the clews of sense, embodied 
itself in his act, his look, his word. This was 
the natural way of beginning his existence. 
In those glimpses, those bursts of sound, he 
grew. They are now withdrawn, and the 
activity which flooded his being has ebbed 
away. Small, tottering, bewildered, he must 
begin life again. A new sense must be devel- 
oped that shall bring back the stimuli and set 
aglow again the joy of his heart. The new sense 
is touch. He must learn to use his hands in- 


stead of his eyes. Flung upon a wholly strange 
world, he must learn to play again, but in the 
dark; he must grow in the dark, work in the 
dark, and perhaps die in the dark. We are 
ready to understand now what must be supplied 
to him and to the child blind at infancy. 

The devices for teaching and amusing a 
sightless child at home are simple and within 
the reach of intelligent parents. A blind child 
should have plenty of objects that he can feel, 
throw around, hunt for, put in his mouth, if he 
likes. He will learn their qualities. Touch- 
able qualities are countless; round, flat, smooth, 
rough, soft and hard, cold and hot, sharp, 
pointed and blimt, fat, thin, silky, velvety. 
The elements of beauty, order, form, symmetry, 
are within his reach. Try to refine his touch, 
so that he may delight in feeling graceful 
lines, curves, and motions, and you will thereby 
refine his mind and tastes. 

Encourage him to examine the properties 
of everything that he can safely touch. He 
should not, however, be allowed to remain a 
sedentary investigator, using only the small 
muscles of his fingers. The wider the range 


of his explorations tibie stouter and braver the 
young navigator will grow. He can go sailing 
on the wide, wide ocean if he piles up chairs 
for a ship and hoists a cloth for a sail. A 
rocking-chair makes a fine locomotive, where- 
with to cross continents, but the young engineer 
should not sit in it; he should push it from 
behind, that his legs may grow sturdy. With- 
out strength gained from vigorous action he 
will profit little by the knowledge gained from 
more delicate activities. There is time enough 
for these when his legs are weary and he is 
ready to sit down. Then he can find multifold 
exercise for his flexible, inquisitive fingers. 
He can weave tape in and out through the back 
rods of a ehair, cut paper (with blunt-pointed 
scissors), make chains of spools, beads or 
daisies. Let him model with clay or putty, 
put together sliced maps and puzzles. Such 
play exercises his ingenuity, brings firmness 
and precision of touch, fosters observation. 
Teach him to spin tops, for he will find never- 
ending pleasure in their whirl and hum. I 
used to love to spin dollars and every other 
thing that would spin. I remember a set of 


stone blocks with which t joyed, to build cathe- 
dralsy castles, houses, bridges. Finally I asked 
for a toy city, entire, including churches with 
steeples, a schoolhouse, a hospital, a square full 
of trees and houses with steep roofs and plenty 
of doors and windows. Sometimes I flung all 
the buildings down, pretending it was an earth- 
quake. Then I dropped apples in the midst of 
the town and cried, "Vesuvius has erupted!" 

The toy-shops, with their wonderful mechan- 
ical playthings, their ingenious miniatures of 
all the furniture of life, will supply apparatus 
enough for the blind child's home school, 
and, even if the teacher-mother cannot afford to 
buy toys, she will find suggestions for home- 
made ones. 

But the toy is merely an adjunct. Child 
and mother can turn the commonest things, 
indoors and out, into the materials of play. 
The all-important object is interesting exercise. 
Do not let your blind child lie on the bed in the 
daytime or rest in the comer "out of harm's 
way." Pull the mattress into the middle of 
the room, and teach him to turn somersaults on 
it. Let him cling to your dress or your 


arm as you go about your work. Even if it 
inconveniences you, it will teach him to walk 
steadily and to find his way about the house. 
Encourage him to run, skip, jump, fly in the 
swing, and give his playmates a push when 
they take their turn at swinging. Children 
are sympathetic and quick to learn. They will 
lead their blind comrade into their games, 
especially if they receive the right suggestions 
from the parents. When the blind child 
wrestles and plays rough-and-tumble with the 
other children the unwise mother will run to 
rescue the afflicted contestant; the wise mother 
will applaud the struggle so long as it is sports- 
manlike and good-natured. 

When it is possible, the blind child should be 
taught to swim and to row. K there is a yard 
or garden with definite boundaries let him be 
familiar with every part of it. Furnish him 
with a sandpile, spade, and shovel; show him 
how to plant, pick fiowers, and water them. 
Before my teacher came to me I used to hang 
to my mother's skirt or to my nurse, and I 
picked strawberries, watered the flowers, turned 
the ice-cream freezer, folded clothes, and helped 


the cook pluck the fowl — much to the cook's 
annoyance. This was an ignorant activity 
on my part, for I had no language, and there- 
fore no knowledge. How much more is open 
to the blind child who has learned the lan- 
guage of affection and can be stimulated by the 
thought that he is "helping mother!" This 
will develop a love of usefulness, the inspiring 
sense that he is of service to his family. 

It is needful that the mother be ever ready 
with a suggestion of something new, for the 
child will tire of doing one thing long. If he 
is in the coimtry he can feed the poultry, the 
dog and the cat, shell peas, string beans, peel 
apples, set the table, wipe dishes, dust, put 
things in place, and some of these activities 
are possible in the city, too. That day has 
been well spent which leaves the blind child 
in state of healthy fatigue ready to go to sleep. 
A great many blind persons have insomnia due 
to nervousness and lack of exercise. Indeed 
— and mark this well — it is not blindness, 
but the afflictions that accompany it and result 
from it, that make the blind miserable and 


The mother who knows that she has it in 
her power to restore to her blind child almost 
everything but the mere act of seeing will find 
in his deprivation, not a calamity to cast her 
down, but an opportunity to develop her tact, 
patience, wisdom — an object on which to 
bestow the highest gifts that have been vouch- 
safed to her. 

Laugh and talk with your blind child as you 
look and smile at your seeing child. Pass his 
hand lightly over your features and let him feel, 
not for long, but attentively, the play of facial 
expression. The face speaks eloquently by 
unconscious movements of the muscles, as 
in the smile, the set grave look, the quiver of 
the lips. Tears, the hot flush of the cheek, the 
toss of the head, the look downward or upward, 
are the true indices of mood and emotion. 
The chfld will learn these expressions, come in 
time to imitate them, and thus show an animated 
face. It is very necessary for the blind child 
to have a face which speaks to the world of 
seeing persons in the language which they are 
accustomed to read in each other's counte- 
nances. Without that he will be isolated and 


misunderstood. People shrink from a blind- 
looking face and mistake its blankness for 
want of interest or stupidity. The child's 
ability to look his thought, appropriate manners, 
demonstrative gestures, will help him on his 
way through a world of seeing men. There 
are many sightless men who try hard and work 
faithfully, but who lack the accomplishments 
and amenities of social intercourse. They do 
not make friends readily and are much alone. 
Because they seem spiritless they are not 
invited out, and thus they do become that 
which they seem; uninteresting, dispirited, 
uncompanionable. The blind man's oppor- 
tunities to mingle with his kind depend largely 
on whether as a child he has learned attractive 
ways and manners, on whether his mother has 
laughed with him and sung to him and let him 
feel with his hands her smile, her frown, her 
look of surprised delight. The seeing child 
observes these things imconsdously. To reveal 
them to the blind child a little conscious 
effort is necessary. 

For, after all, the whole difference between 
training a blind child and one who sees lies 


in a little extra effort. The blind child cannot 
be deliberately stuffed with information and 
good morals. Directions must be taught him 
by indirections. He is a growing human thmg, 
like all the other child-plants in the garden. 
Only he needs more care. He requires the 
gardener's best skill. He is to be encouraged, 
not forced. He can be coaxed, not compelled, 
to commit poems to memory, to reproduce 
stories and tell them to his playmates. This 
should be a pastime and a pleasure, and it 
will help his progress in composition and reading 
when he enters school. Throughout life he 
will find story-telling a welcome diversion for 
idle hours. Did you ever notice how few 
seeing people can tell a story? And yet they 
read so many! Would not a blind man who 
could tell a story be delightful company by the 
fireside? The world has not forgotten a blind 
man who told stories in Greece, centuries 
ago, or another who sat with closed eyes and 
read as upon a scroll within his brain the 
story of creation written anew. The princes 
and nobles of Japan have heard the wis- 
dom of their ancestors and the history of 


their country from the eloquent lips of blind 

There are so many fine and useful things that 
a blind man can do if he is well brought up, 
so many disagreeable and debilitating things 
that he will do if he is left untrained. Like 
other human beings, he must go forward or he 
will sink and fall. If his energies are not di- 
rected in childhood they will run wild into 
contortions and perversions. The child not 
drilled in deportment, not taught to use his 
hands, will fall into ungainly nervous habits 
called "blindisms." Left to himself he rocks 
his body, puts his fingers in his eyes, shakes his 
hands before his face, sways from one foot to the 
other, bends forward and back, and develops 
other uncouth mannerisms. These are frequent 
among blind children who enter the schools, 
and the fight to overcome them is much harder 
than would have been timely discipline at 
home. Li a blind child it is important, first, 
to beware of bad habits, then to cultivate 
good ones. 

The cultivation of good habits, of right 
moral and religious ideas, is a delicate and yet 


natural process. One method that is likely 
to succeed is to speak the pleasant word of 
praise at the right moment. Seeing people 
are subjected to unconscious criticism in the 
inevitable comparison they make between what 
they do and what others do. The blind person 
needs to be told more often and more definitely 
when he has done well and when he has done 
ill. Here the parent (and other seeing persons) 
should guard against the temptation to praise 
a blind child because he is afflicted. It is 
harmful, not helpful, to the sightless to be com- 
mended for work that is worthless. In this 
coimtry good people have for years bought 
cheap beadwork and fancywork from the 
blind, not because they admired the articles, 
but because they pitied the makers. This 
has tended to keep the standard of work low. 
At present, however, eflForts are being made iu 
several States to raise the standard of work 
and give the blind opportunity to make useful 
and beautiful things. 

It is wonderful what a wise mother can 
accomplish for her blind child, and the story 
I shall relate cannot fail to hearten those who 


have a disaster to right in the lives of their 
little ones. Dr. F. J. Campbell, who is him- 
self blind, has done more than any other man 
living for the sightless. He is an American, 
bom in Teimessee, and he founded and has 
managed for thirty years the Royal Normal 
CoU^e and Academy of Music for the Blind 
at Norwood, near London. He is a teacher 
and an exemplar of independence, self-reliance, 
and dignified industry for the blind. In 
vacation time, just to show what the blind can 
do he has climbed Mont Blanc, and in work- 
time he has educated and placed in positions 
of competence some of the best musicians of 
England. He lost his sight when he was 
between four and five years of age. At that 
time there were only two or three schools 
for the blind in America. His father said to 
the other members of the family: "Joseph will 
never see again. He is helpless. We must 
all work for him and take care of him. As 
long as he lives he must never want for any- 
thing that we can give him. We must wait 
on him and do everything for him.'^ 

The family agreed conscientiously -^ all but 


the mother. She took her blind son by the hand, 
led hun into another room, and 'said : ** Joseph, 
don't you pay any attention to what you have 
heard. You can learn to work, and I will 
teach you. In fact, you've got to work." 
She did teach him, and saw to it that he did 
what the other boys did. But what could a 
blind boy do? Once he suggested that he 
might chop kindling-wood for the fire. The 
father was unwilling to trust a blind boy with 
an axe. But soon he went away on business 
for a few days. Then the mother took the 
boy to the woodpile, gave him an axe and set 
him to work. When the father returned he 
found six cords of firewood cut and piled. 
*'Well done, lads," he said to the other boys, 
and then they told him that Joseph had done 
it all. The father took the hint and bought 
the boy a new light axe, and from that time 
taught him all kinds of work about the farm. 
Senator Gore, of Oklahoma, was stricken 
with blindness when he was eleven years old. 
His father told him that he must go to an 
institution for the bUnd. "No, Father," ex- 
claimed the sturdy little lad, "I will go to 


school for the seeing, right here." They lived 
then in Mississippi. The boy was page in 
the State Senate, and boarded at the house 
of United States Senator George. ^ So he was 
brought up in politics and early acquired the 
love for debating and oratory which led to his 
success in public life. Mr. Gore's State will 
not fail to build the fine institution for the 
blind which some of its citizens are planning, 
for the welfare of the sightless must be dear 
to the heart of young Oklahoma, the first 
American Commonwealth, I believe, to send a 
blind man to the national Senate. 

Doctor Campbell and Senator Gore are 
men of unusual native power, but their success 
teaches us surely that ordinary blind children 
can by careful teaching be fitted for ordinary 
studies and pursuits. It is significant, I 
think, that Senator Gore did not go to an 
institution for the blind, and the question may 
be raised, though it cannot be easily settled, 
whether our blind children cannot be taken 
care of in the ordinary public schools. AU the 
apparatus they need is raised books, raised 
maps, and a tablet to write on. These can 


be furnished as well at a regular school as at 
an institution. The teachers are overworked, 
it is true, and in the prevailing ignorance 
about the blind they would expect a blind child 
to be a difficult burden. But a special 
teacher could be engaged at less ultimate cost 
to the community than the cost of existing in- 
stitutions. The advantage to the blind child 
would be great. He would be brought up in the 
midst of seeing children and become a familiar 
and accepted member of the community in 
which he must live and work. His presence 
in the school might have a good effect on popu- 
lar education by proving that education is a 
process of mind, and not a matter of apparatus. 
Solving mathematical problems in his head, 
he would suggest perhaps to his teachers that 
arithmetic is an abstraction, and is independent 
of chalk and blackboard, even of the newest 
textbook recommended by the school com- 

The reason for the institutions lies in the 
history of education, not in the essential needs 
of the blind. Philanthropists saw years ago 
that blind children were neglected — left out 


of the race entirely. The first thought, natu- 
rally, was to bring them together, in a special 
institution. So one State after another built 
its school for the blind, and their education 
remained a mystery to the general public, siuy 
rounded, like most institutional education, 
by myth and superstition. Even now some 
parents shrink from sending their afflicted 
children to an "institution," for the very word 
suggests a prison or asylum. Under present 
conditions no parent should deprive a blind 
child of such opportunities as the schools for 
the blind afford. The children are well treated, 
they are not coddled, their blindness is not 
emphasized, and much is done to make them 

Whatever the formal schooling of a blind 
.child is to be, his preliminary training and the 
use he makes of his education depend largely 
upon his mother. Before he is ready for school 
she can send to the nearest institution, get an 
alphabet sheet of embossed characters and 
teach him his letters. There is the same eager- 
ness for knowledge among blind children as 
among seeing. Blind boys oud girls long to 


read as their seeing brothers and sisters do. 
They finger the schoolbooks that the others 
are studying and feel the blank pages to find 
the stories that are being read aloud. The 
first signs of intellectual curiosity will be met by 
the watchful mother, and she will make her 
blind child ready for the school that must ere 
long educate him, ready for the long road of 
life on which he must set out through the 


My Dear Mr. Clemens: 

It is a great disappointment to me not to 
be with you and the other friends who have 
joined their strength to uplift the blind. The 
meeting in New York will be the greatest 
occasion in the movement which has so long 
engaged my heart, and I regret keenly not to 
be present and feel the inspiration of living con- 
tact with such an assembly of wit, wisdom, and 

I should be happy if I could have spelled 
into my hand the words as they fall from your 
lips, and receive, even as it is uttered, the 
eloquence of our newest ambassador to the 
blind. We have not had such advocates 

My disappointment is softened by the 

thought that never at any meeting was the 

•^— ^— »— "^^^ 

*B«ad by Mark Twain at a meeting of tlie New Yoik iisaofagir 
tion for the Blind, March 29, 1006. 



right word so sure to be spoken. But super- 
fluous as all other appeal must seem after you 
and Mr. Choate have spoken, nevertheless, 
as I am a woman, I cannot be silent, and I ask 
you to read this letter, knowing that it will be 
lifted to eloquence by your kindly voice. 

To know what the blind man needs, you who 
can see must imagine what it would be not to 
see, and you can imagine it more vividly if 
you remember that before your journey's end 
you may have to go the dark way yourself. 
Try to realize what blindness means to those 
whose joyous activity is stricken to inaction. 

It is to live long, long days — and life is 
made up of days. It is to live immured» 
baffled, impotent, all God's world shut out. 
It is to sit helpless, defrauded, while your 
spirit strains and tugs at its fetters and your ' 
shoulders ache for the burden they are denied/ 
the rightful burden of labour. 

The seeing man goes about his business 
confident and self-dependent. He does his 
share of the work of the world in mine, in 
quarry, in factory, in counting-room, askmg 
of others no boon save the opportunity to do 


a man's part and to receive the labourer's 

In an instant accident blinds him. The 
day is blotted out. Night envelops all the 
visible world. The feet which once bore him 
to his task with firm and confident stride 
stumble and halt and fear the forward step. 
He is forced to a new habit of idleness, which 
like a canker consimies the mind and destroys 
its beautiful faculties. 

Memory confronts him with his Kghted 
past. Amid the tangible ruins of his life as it 
promised to be he gropes his pitiful way. You 
have met him on your busy thoroughfares, 
with faltering feet and outstretched hands, 
patiently dredging the universal dark, holding 
out for sale his petty wares, or his cap for 
your pennies; and this was a man with am- 
bitions and capabilities. 

It is because we know that these ambitions 
and capabilities can be fulfilled that we are 
working to improve the condition of the adult 
blind. You cannot bring back sight to the 
vacant eyes; but you can give a helping hand 
to the sightless along their dark pilgrimage. 


You can teach them new skilL For work they 
once did with the aid of their eyes you can 
substitute work that they can do with their 

They ask only opportunity, and opportu- 
nity is the torch of darkness. They crave no 
charity, no pension, but the satisfaction that 
comes from lucrative toil, and this satisfaction 
is the right of every human being. 

At your meeting New York will speak its 
word for the blind, and when New York speaks, 
the world listens. The true message of New 
York is not the commercial ticking of busy 
telegraphs, but the mightier utterances of such 
gatherings as yours. 

Of late our periodicals have been jGIled with 
depressing revelations of great social evils. 
Querulous critics have pointed to every flaw 
in our civic structure. We have listened 
long enough to the pessimists. 

You once told me you were a pessimist, Mr. 
Clemens; but great men are usually mistaken 
about themselves. You are an optimist. If 
you were not, you would not preside at the 
meeting. For it is an answer to pessimism. 


It proclaims that the heart and the wisdom 
of a great city are devoted to the good of 
mankind, that in this, the busiest city in the 
world, no cry of distress goes up but receives 
a compassionate and generous answer. Re- 
joice that the cause of the blind has been heard 
in New York, for the day after it shall be 
heard aroimd the world. 



It is a great pleasure to me to speak in 
New York about the blind. For New York 
is great because of the open hand with which 
it responds to the needs of the weak and the 
poor. The men and women for whom I 
speak are poor and weak in that they lack 
one of the chief weapons with which the human 
being fights his battle. But they must not on 
that account be sent to the rear. Much less 
must they be pensioned like disabled soldiers. 
They must be kept in the fight for their own 
sake, and for the sake of the strong. It is a 
blessing to the strong to give help to the weak. 
Otherwise there would be no excuse for having 
the poor always with us. 

The help we give the unfortunate must be 
intelligent. Charity may flow freely and yet 

*Addres8 before the New York Association for the Blind, 
January 15, 1907. 



fail to touch the deserts of human life. Dis- 
organized charity is creditable to the heart 
but not to the mind. Pity and tears make 
poetry; but they do not raise model tenement- 
houses, or save the manhood of blind men. 
The heaviest burden on the blind is not blind- 
ness, but idleness, and they can be relieved 
of this greater burden. 

Our work for the blind is practical. The 
Massachusetts commission, your association, 
and the New York commission are placing it on 
a sincere basis. The first task is to make a 
careful census of the blind, to find out how 
many there are, how old they are, what are 
their circumstances, when they lost their sight 
and from what cause. Without such a census 
there can be no order in our work. In Massa- 
chusetts this task is nearly completed. 

The next step is to awaken each town and 
city to a sense of its duty to the blind. For it 
is the community where the blind man lives 
that ultimately determines his success or his 
failure. The State can teach him to work, 
supply him with raw materials and capital 
to start his business; but his fellow-citizens 


must furnish the market for his products, and 
give him the encouragement without which no 
blind man can make headway. They must 
do more than this: they must meet him with 
a sympathy that conforms to the dignity of his 
manhood and his capacity for service. In- 
deed, the community should regard it as a 
disgrace fqr the blind to beg on the street 
comer, or receive unearned pensions. 

It is not helpful — in the long run it is 
harmful — to buy worthless articles of the 
blind. For many years kind-hearted people 
have brought futile and childish things because 
the blind made them. Quantities of beadwork, 
that can appeal to no eye save the eye of pity, 
have passed as specimens of the work of the 
blind. If beadwork had been studied in the 
schools for the blind and supervised by com- 
petent seeing persons, it could have been made a 
profitable industry for the sightless. I have 
examined beautiful beadwork in the shops — 
purses, bags, belts, lamp-shades, and dress- 
trimmings — some of it very expensive — im- 
ported from France and Germany. Under 
proper supervision this beadwork could be 


made by the blind. This is only one example 
of the sort of manufacture that the blind may 
profitably engage in. 

One of the principal objects of the movement 
which we ask you to help is to promote good 
workmanship among the sightless. In Bos- 
ton, in a fashionable shopping district, the 
Massachusetts commission has opened a sales- 
room where the best handicraft of all the sight- 
less in the State may be exhibited and sold. 
There are hand-woven curtains, table-covers, 
bed-spreads, sofa-pillows, linen suits, rugs ; and 
the articles are of good design and workmanship. 
People buy them not out of pity for the maker, 
but out of admiration for the thing. Orders 
have already come from Minnesota, from 
England, from Egypt. So the blind of the 
New World have sent light into Egyptian 

This shop is under the same roof with the 
salesroom of the Perkins Institution for the 
Blind. The old school and the new commission 
are working side by side. I desire to see similar 
cooperation between the New York Institution 
for the Blind and the New York Associaticm. 


The true value of a school for the sightless is 
not merely to enlighten intellectual darkness, 
but to lend a hand to every movement in the 
interests of the blind. It is not enough that 
our blind children receive a common-school 
education. They should do something well' 
enough to become wage-earners. When they 
are properly educated, they desire to work 
more than they desire ease or entertainment. 
If some of the blind are ambitionless and lazy, 
the fault lies partly with those who have 
directed their education, partly with our indo« 
lent progenitors in the Garden of Eden. All 
over the land the blind are stretching forth 
eager hands to the new tasks which shall 
soon be within their reach. They embrace 
labour gladly because they know it is strength. 
One of our critics has suggested that we 
who call the blind forth to toil are as one who 
should overload a disabled horse and compel 
him to earn his oats. In the little village where 
I live, there was a lady so mistakenly kind 
to a pet horse that she never broke him to 
harness, and fed him twelve quarts of oats a 
day. The horse had to be shot. I am not 


afraid that we shall kill our blind with kindness. 
I am still less afraid that we shall break their 

Nay, I can tell you of blind men who of their 
own accord enter the sharp competition of 
business and put their hands zealously to the 
tools of trade. It is our part to train them in 
business, to teach them to use their tools 
skilfully. Before this association was thought 
of, blind men had given examples of energy and 
industry, and with such examples shining in 
the dark other blind men will not be content 
to be numbered among those who will not, or 
cannot, carry burden on shoulder or tool in 
hand — those who know not the honour of 
hard-won independence. 

The new movement for the blind rests on a 
foimdation of common sense. It is not the 
baseless fabric of a sentimentalist's dream. 
We do not believe that the blind should be 
segregated from the seeing, gathered together 
in a sort of Zion City, as has been done in 
Roumania and attempted in Iowa. We have 
no queen to preside over such a city. America 
is a democracy, a multimonarchy, and the 


city of the blind is everywhere. Each com- 
munity should take care of its own blind, pro- 
vide employment for them, and enable them 
to work side by side with the seeing. We do 
not expect to find among the blind a dis- 
proportionate number of geniuses. Education 
does not develop in them remarkable talent. 
Like the seeing man, the blind man may be a 
philosopher, a mathematician, a linguist, a 
seer, a poet, a prophet. But believe me, if 
the light of genius bums within him, it wiU 
bum despite his infirmity, and not because of it. 
The lack of one sense — or two — never helped 
a human being. We should be glad of the 
sixth or the sixteenth sense with which our 
friends and the newspaper reporters, more 
generous than nature, are wont to endow us. 
To paraphrase Mr. Kipling, we are not heroes 
and we are not cowards too. We are ordinary 
folk limited by an extraordinary incapacity. 
If we do not always succeed in our undertakings, 
even with assistance from friends, we console 
ourselves with the thought that in the vast 
company of the world's failures is many a 
soimd pair of eyes ! 


I appeal to you, give the blind man the 
assistance that shall secure for him complete 
or partial independence. He is blind and 
falters. Therefore go a little more than half- 
way to^eet him. Remember, however brave 
and self-reliant he is, he will always need a 
guidmg hand m his. 


The American people have been liberal in 
their gifts to the blind. Their attitude has 
been one of sincere interest and kindly ex- 
pectation of success. There has been generous 
provision to educate the children and to sur- 
round the aged with comfort. Yet the truth 
forces itself upon those who study the problem 
that much remains to be done, that there is 
some important work which has not been even 
started in many of oiu* States. 
' To begin at the beginning, we have found 
that much blindness is unnecessary, that 
perhaps a third of it is the result of disease 
which can be averted by timely treatment. 
Then the instruction of parents and friends 
m the care of blind children needs to be carried 
to every comer of the country. We have before 
us a long campaign of education to teach 
parents that they must encourage sightless 

♦The World: s Work, August, 1907. 



children to romp and play and grow strong as 
their seeing brothers and sisters do. Failure 
to understand this, and the natural inclination 
to shield and pamper defective children impose 
upon the schools the unnecessary burden of 
straightening crooked backs and deformed 
Umbs and correcting nervous habits, engen- 
dered by lack of intelligent discipline at home* 
The backward condition of the pupils when they 
enter the schools for the blind accounts in part 
for the failure of some of our institutions in 
the work they are intended to do* The failure 
is due partly to the inadequacy of the schools 
themselves. Thus we find need of improve- 
ment in training from babyhood to adult life; 
and finally we discover a large class of adult 
blind persons for whom, as yet, no provision 
has been made m most American communities. 
The records recently gathered by investi- 
gators show that even the educated, indus- 
trious blind cannot earn their living without 
more special assistance than they now receive* 
They are so severely handicapped throughout 
life that they cannot shift for themselves. Even 
after careful training and apprenticeship, they 


still need help to find their place in the world 
of workers, a world which often does not 
believe that they can work. Step by step they 
must prove their ability. At the present time, 
thousands of such American men and women 
are living idle, dependent lives. The cause 
of their unproductive dependence is the error 
of not carrying their education far enough, 
and of not providing them with suitable employ- 
ment. I can explain the situation by outlining 
what seems to be the main tendency of the 
education of the blind in Europe. 

The eflFort there is to give them trades and 
handicrafts by means of which they can earn 
their bread, or part of it. The aim of the best 
European education is to make each individ- 
ual self-supporting. The blind require special 
teaching to enable them to use the senses of 
hearing and touch in the place of sight, to live 
and toil in the dark. 

When philanthropists first approach the 
problem, they expect that education will 
develop in the blind extraordinary mental 
capacities. They reason that blind persons, 
shut out from everyday distractions, will enjoy 


great concentration of mind, and as a result 
will be poets, musicians, and thinkers. Such 
was the dream of Valentin Haiiy in France 
and Dr. S. G. Howe in Boston, and such to-day 
is the dream of the good Queen of Rouinania. 
But experience taught Hatty and Howe that 
the poets, the musicians, and the philosophers 
were not forthcoming. We have to deal with 
a miscellaneous class of defective persons who 
are often not only blind, but weak from the 
very cause that destroyed their sight. From 
confinement and want of exercise they are 
often deficient in vitality and dulled in mind. 
In such conditions of body and mind genius 
can hardly flourish. It is true that blind men 
sometimes have the divine spark in them. 
They have become distinguished in art, in 
science, in literature. But whatever eminence 
they have attained has been in spite of their 
misfortune, and not because of it. The great 
exceptions cheer and encourage us; but they 
remain exceptions. The question is, what 
shall be done with the uninspired majority? 
In Europe it was soon found that the 
wisest course is not to direct their instruction 


wholly toward things of the intellect, but pro- 
vide trades and industries by means of which 
they can earn a livelihood. The more advanced 
schools of Europe try to give them an education 
suited to their common intelligence and their 
uncommon infirmity, and the work of the 
schools is supplemented and made practical 
by societies which help them to put their edu- 
cation to the best use as ordinary, industrious, 
self-respecting citizens. The vicissitudes of 
business are so complicated that they easily 
miss their few chances of self-support, unless 
they have special organizations to find positions 
for them, to advertise their abilities and per- 
suade the community to give the blind musician, 
or teacher, or broom-maker, or masseur, or 
whatever he may be, profitable employment. 
There are such organizations in Europe that 
use every effort to bring industrial training 
within the reach of all the blind, and are the 
channels through which the true end of edu- 
cation and charity for the sightless is achieved. 
In America, where the struggle for existence 
is less severe, and where money is more plenti- 
ful, we have been long coming to realize the 


necessity of fitting each individual for a self- 
supporting life. Our education has been 
administered to all children alike, without 
regard for their capacities or circumstances. 
Consequently most children leave school un- 
prepared for a trade or industry or profession. 
This general state of American education has 
complicated the difficulties of the sightless. 
Excellent schools for their instruction, estab- 
lished on sound principles, have existed since 
1832 when the first institutions for the blind 
were opened in Boston and New York. But 
they have laid little or no stress upon industrial 
training. Their system of education has the 
same faults as that in the ordmary American 
schools for the seeing. Besides, our insti- 
tutions for the blind are intended for children 
and youths, and have not taken very much 
interest in the adults. Until recently we have 
had nothing which corresponds to the societies 
for the blind in Europe, and the associations 
which have lately been formed in two or three 
American states are scarcely beyond the stage 
of tentative effort. 

One great difficulty of the adult blind is. 


that of the thousands of occupations in which 
men engage, only a very few will ever be pos- 
sible for the sightless. The occupations in 
which they have already succeeded are the 
manufacture of mattresses, brooms, brushes, 
mats, baskets, some simple kinds of carpentry 
and weaving, cobbling, typewriting, piano- 
tuning, massage, knitting, crocheting, and plain 
sewing. They have also succeeded to some 
extent as travelling salesmen and agents. There 
is opportunity for them in news-stands, tobacco 
and candy shops and other small businesses. 
No doubt other occupations and industries 
will be found for them. 

But even a few occupations are sufficient for 
them all, if the trade and the man are fitted 
one to the other, and both are properly advanced 
in the hurrying market-place of life. The 
practical failure of many graduates of our 
schools for the blind is rooted in the entire 
problem of education. But in addition to these 
there is a class whose problem is not strictly 
educational — those who have lost their sight 
in^mature years. 

The lot of an idle graduate of a school who 


has learned how to be blind is hard enough. 
He leaves school flushed with hope and courage. 
He thinks he can brave the world and conquer 
it. Perhaps he hears of a position as teacher 
and makes the necessary application. His 
application is refused because he cannot see. 
He learns of another position and appUes for 
it in person, passes all the tests and exam- 
inations successfully, and is praised for his 
ability. Still his services are not accepted 
because it is not thought possible for him to 
teach even music as well as a seeing man. Yet 
he has been fitted to teach music. He has 
even studied under masters. 

If a young blind man, educated and trained 
in the dark, loses courage after repeated 
failure, what must be the feelings of one who is 
suddenly stricken blind in mine or factory? 
Blighted ambitions, sorrow, bitterness, and 
despair. "What will become of me? Who 
will feed and clothe my little ones? Must I 
live useless always, an object of charity?** 
These are the questions that rack him. He 
may try to be cheerful; but happy he cannot 
be, unless he finds occupation. His unused 


faculties will rust. The light of intelligence 
fades from his countenance. His hands grope 
for the tool that accident has snatched away. 

What shall we do to alter this condition of 
the blind in America? First of all, it is neces- 
sary to awaken public interest in matters con- 
cerning the sightless. An enlightened public 
sentiment is the only power in a democracy 
that can bring about and maintain the better- 
ment of my class. When the public under- 
stands the blind man, his needs and capacities, 
there will be an end to the more special causes 
which we find partly responsible for present 
conditions in this country — lack of enthusiasm, 
intelligence, and cooperation on the part of 
those who have charge of the institutions for 
the blind. 

The superintendents of these institutions, 
dependent on boards of trustees who know 
almost nothing about the needs of these institu- 
tions and the diflSculties of the blind, trusted 
by a public which is not informed, are often 
men of indiflFerent attainment, wedded to 
petty theories, and unprogressive. They are 
generally kind, and believe that they have the 


best interests of their charges at heart. But 
the existing condition of the sightless through* 
out the country affords sufficient evidence of 
their incompetence. 

An obvious illustration of their incompetency 
and the absence of cooperation between the 
schools is the confusion in the prints for the 
blind. One would think that the advantages 
of having a common print would not require 
argument. Yet every effort to decide which 
print is best has failed. The Perkins Institu- 
tion for the Blind, with a large printing fund, 
clings to line Letter — embossed characters, 
shaped like Roman letters,* in spite of the fact 
that most of the blind prefer a point system. 
The Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind 
offers its readers American Braille, a print in 
which the letters are composed of raised dots. 
This is a modification of the system which was 
perfected by Louis Braille three quarters of 
a century ago and is still the system used 
throughout Eiu-ope. The New York Institution 
invente d, controls, and advocates New York 

*Line letter is no longer printed at the Perkins Institution. 
The present superintendent, Mr. Allen, is a progressive man and 
an advocate of American Braille. 


Point, another species of Braille. The money 
appropriated by the national government to 
emboss books for the blind is used for all the 
types. The new periodical, the Matilda Ziegler 
Magazine for the BUnd, the boon for which 
we have waited many years, is printed in 
American Braille and New York Point. The 
same book, expensive to print once, has to be 
duplicated in the various systems for the differ- 
ent institutions. Other prints are yet to come. 
They are still in the crucible of meditation. 
A plague upon all these prints! Let us have 
one system, whether it is an ideal one, or not. 
For my part, I wish nothing had been mvented 
except European Braille. There was already 
a considerable library in this system when the 
American fever for invention plunged us into 
this Babel of prints which is typical of the 
many confusions from which the blind suffer 
throughout the United States. 

We Americans spend more money on the 
education of defectives than any other country. 
But we do not always find the shortest, easiest, 
and most economical way of accomplishing 
the end we have in view. We desire to bring 


the greatest happiness to the largest number. 
We give generously as earnest of our desire, 
and then we do not see that our bounty is 
wisely spent. 

Three or four years ago, in New York, two 
cultivated women became interested in the 
blind. They observed how much pleasure 
some blind persons derived from a musical 
entertainment, and they thought how many 
hours the sightless must spend without diver- 
sion. They set to work to establish a bureau 
for the distribution to the blind of tickets for the 
theatre, the opera, and other entertainments. 
This brought them into contact with the blind, 
and they soon perceived that their efforts to 
entertain them were but to gild a sepuldbre. 
The blind said to them: "You are very kind 
to give us pleasure. But it is work we need, 
something to do with our hands. It is terrible 
to sit idle all day long. Give us that wondrous 
thing, interest in life. Work wedded to interest 
gives dignity, sweetness, and strength even to 
our kind of life." 

The two noble women determined to see 
what could be done. They went for infor- 


mation to the New York Institution for the 
Blind. They asked why the blind were un- 
employed. They received courteous assurances 
that everything possible was being done for the 
blind, that their hard lot was the inevitable 
result of circumstances. The fact that they 
were idle was deplored, but there was no help 
for it. In a world of machinery, specialized 
industry, and keen competition the blind man 
could hot expect to find profitable occupation. 
He must, it was urged, ever remain a public 
charge to be treated kindly, and the young 
women were heartily commended for their 
efforts to supply them with entertainment. 
Indeed, it was argued, it would be cruel to add 
to the burden of infirmity the burden of labour. 
It would be quite as cruel to expect them to 
earn their Uving as to compel a disabled horse 
to earn his oats. (The same kind of specious 
argument was being disseminated in Massa- 
chusetts and other States.) But the ladies were 
too intelligent and too earnest to be convinced. 
Their visit was the beginning of a new move- 
ment in New York toward the betterment of 
the sightless. 


Soon afterward an association was formed. 
Meetings were held. Men of ability and elo- 
quence spoke in behalf of the work and drove 
the truth home to the peoplte that the heaviest 
burden upon the blind is not blindness, but 
idleness. The Institution raised its head in 
protest and self-justification, and tried to 
prejudice the blind against the association. 
It opposed an adequate census of the sightless. 
The association appealed to the Legislature 
for an appropriation to carry on the census. 
The Legislature made the appropriation and 
established a commission. The commission 
appointed one of the two ladies Director of 
the Census, with the result that a complete 
registry of the blind of New York State will 
soon be available. This census wUl not be 
like the United States census figures, which 
are vague and incomplete, but will tell how 
many blind there are, where* each Kve, and in 
what circumstances, what occupation he has, 
what trade he has learned in school, how old he 
is, how long he has been blind, and from what 
cause he lost his sight. The New York census 
and the Massachusetts census will tell with 


scientific definiteness what has been left undone, 
and will enable us to deal more intelligently 
with the problems of the sightless. 

The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind 
grew out of a volunteer organization which 
carried on investigations and experiments. At 
the experiment station a few blind persons 
learned to weave rugs, fabrics suitable for 
curtains, table covers, and sofa pillows, and 
other things useful and beautiful. At this 
station industries and processes were tested 
with a view to increase the number of lucrative 
occupations in which the blind, especially 
women, might engage. After it had demon- 
strated to the State that they are capable of 
higher efficiency than they have generally 
reached, the association asked the Legislature 
for an appropriation to extend the work. The 
appropriation was granted, and a commission 
was appointed by the Governor to be respon- 
sible for the welfare of all the blind in Massa- 

The commission took over all the work of 
the association, proceeded with the census, 
enlarged the experiment plant, opened an 


attractive shop in a fashionable shopping 
district of Boston, and will open industrial 
shops in other parts of the State as seems 
advisable. The commission furnishes blind 
home-workers with raw materials. It starts 
trustworthy blind men and women in busmess, 
with the understanding that if they succeed, 
they will pay back the amount the State has 
lent them. The commission gives information 
to sightless persons who seek positions. Above 
all things, it urges upon each community its 
responsibility for the care and employment 
of the blind within its precincts. State in- 
stitutions can train the bhnd man: but his 
fellow-citizens must furnish the market for his 
products, and see to it that he gets his fair 
share of patronage. 

In Massachusetts, happily, opposition be- 
tween the old order and the new has ceased. 
The Perkins Institution for the Blind and the 
commission are working together. The shop 
where the commission puts on sale the work 
of the sightless is under the same roof with 
the salesroom of the Perkins Institution. The 
school in changing its attitude has set an 


example which other institutions cannot afford 
to disregard. For the new movement in behalf 
of the blind will not cease until every sightless 
person in our land has the chance to earn at 
least part of his support. 

Philanthropists and public-spirited people 
all over the coimtry have taken up the work. 
Business men are advocating it. Great men 
like Mark Twain and Mr. Choate have 
approved it. Governors and legislatures have 
given it public sanction. Its complete success 
now depends on three classes of responsible 
persons : First, the directors of the institutions 
and other educators; second, the trustees of 
the institutions and the State Boards; third, 
and ultimately, the public, of which the blind 
man is one. 

We ask that the directors be cultivated men, 
sincerely interested in the whole problem; that 
if they have not the initiative to lead the way 
to progress, they will accept and carry out 
intelligent suggestions. We ask that the trus- 
tees of our institutions for the blind be chosen 
for the highest interest of the sightless, for their 
competency, and not merely for name, family 


or social eminence. We ask that they be men 
who can a£ford a little time to study the prob- 
lems of the blind. We ask that the trustees 
be so qualified that no director or teacher or 
any other person can impose upon them as to 
the condition, work or efficiency of the school, or 
the accomplishments of its graduates. We ask 
that the trustees build schools for the blind on 
land suited to the peculiar needs of the sightless. 
The blind need to be placed where they can 
have plenty of room for playgrounds and learn 
a little of farming and gardening. Willow- 
work is one of the well-known industries for 
the blind in Europe; but it has not been intro- 
duced here, except in Wisconsin, because of 
the lack of willow. Why not plant willow 
on land near the institutions, and employ 
blind people to trim and care for the willow 
groves? Why not let the blind raise poultry? 
It has proved a profitable industry for them 
in England. If these suggestions do not 
prove practical, the fact remains that the sight- 
less need large playgrounds — out-of-door life. 
Their inactivity and often the disease which 
caused their blindness keep them undeveloped 


and anemic. If they are to become strong, 
healthy men and women, they must have a 
great deal of unrestrained exercise in the open 
air. In the old days there was at least an 
excuse for putting the institution in the cities; 
but now, when the trolley makes the cou^ttry 
accessible/ every consideration of economy and 
weU-being for the sightless cries out against a 
school for the blind in a crowded city. 

We ask the public to take all these matters 
to heart and imderstand the needs of the sight* 
less. The strangest ignorance exists in the 
minds of people as to what the blind can do. 
They are amazed when they hear that a blind 
person can write on the typewriter, dress him- 
self without assistance, go up and down stairs 
alone, eat with a fork, and know when the sun 
is shining. But they are ready to believe that 
we have a special stock of senses to replace those 
which we have lost ! They believe unquestion- 
ingly, for instance, that I can play the piano, 
distinguish colours and write sonnets in two or 
three languages. Yet they doubt that I can 
write this article, or arrive at the simple facts 
and deductions it contains. 


The public must learn that the blind man 
is neither a genius nor a freak nor an idiot. 
He has a mind which can be educated, a hand 
which can be trained, ambitions which it is 
right for him to strive to realize, and it is the 
duty of the public to help him to make the best 
of himself, so that he can win light through 


(a later view) 

Some time ago I received a pathetic letter 
from a workman in a woollen mill. I quote a 
part of it: 

"I was employed in the worsted trade in 
England before coming to this country. I 
had worked for ten years and had learnt a good 
deal about wool, tops, and noils. I came to 
this country in the hope of climbing the in- 
dustrial ladder. I could hear pretty well, or 
I should not have passed the immigration 
oflBicers. I got work quickly at the very bottom 
of the ladder. I kept my eyes open and learnt 
everything that came my way, and in time 
I was transferred to the combing room to learn 
to be section hand. By this time my hearing 
had become slightly worse. All the help in 
this department were either Italians or Poles, 

* Editorial from the Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, April, 1911. 



so that between their broken English and my 
defective hearing I was much handicapped. 
I have been on short time for over a year» and 
since the New Year I have earned $6.71 per 
week. There are six of us to feed, clothe, 
shelter, and coal to buy. How to find a bare 
existence is the problem that confronts me 
to-day. I would take anything where I could 
earn steady pay. I have the idea that I shall 
yet rise out of the mire. But in the mean- 
time I must live and support my family, and 
this I cannot do under present circumstances." 

This workman is deaf, but his position is 
similar to that of many of the sightless. 
We have been accustomed to regard the un- 
employed deaf and blind as victims of their 
infirmities. That is to say, we have supposed 
that if their sight and hearing were miracu- 
lously restored, they would find work. The 
problem of the underpaid and underemployed 
workman is too large to discuss here. But 
I wish to suggest to the readers of this article 
that the unemployment of the blind is only 
part of a greater problem. 


There are, it is estimated, a million labourers 
out of work in the United States. Their 
inaction is not due to physical defects or lack 
of ability or of intelligence, or to ill health or 
vice. It is due to the fact that our present 
system of production necessitates a large 
margin of idle men. The business world in 
which we live cannot give every man opportu- 
nity to fulfil his capabilities or even assure him 
continuous occupation as an unskilled labourer. 
The means of employment — the land and the 
factories, that is, the tools of labour — are in 
the hands of a minority of the people, and are 
used rather with a view to increasing the owner's 
profits than with a view to keeping all men 
busy and productive. Hence there are more 
men than "jobs." This is the first and the 
chief evil of the so-called capitalistic system of 
production. The workman has nothing to 
sell but his labour. He is in strife, in rivalry 
with his fellows for a chance to sell his power. 
Naturally the weaker workman is thrust aside. 
That does not mean that he is utterly incapac- 
itated for iadustrial activity, but only that he 
is less capable than his successful competitor* 


In the majority of cases there is no relation 
between unemployment and ability. A fketory ,! 
shuts down, and all the operatives, the more 
competent as well as the less competent, are 
thrown out of work. In February the cotton 
mill owners of Massachusetts agreed to run 
the mills on a schedule of four days a week. 
The employees were not to blame for the re- 
duction of work, nor were the employers to 
blame. The conditions of the market com- 
pelled it. 

Thus, it has come to pass that in this land 
of plenty there is an increasing number of 
^^superfluous men." The doors of industry 
are closed to them the whole year or part of the 
year. No less than six million American men, 
women, and children are in a permanent state 
of want because of total or partial idleness. 
In a small comer of this vast social distress 
we find our unemployed blind. Their lack 
of sight is not the primary cause of their 
idleness; it is a contributing cause; it relegates 
them to the enormous army of the unwillingly 

We can subsidize the work of the sightless; 


we can build special institutions and factories 
for them, and solicit the help of wealthy patrons. 
But the blind man cannot become an inde- 
pendent, self-supporting member of society, 
he can never do all that he is capable of, until 
all his seeing brothers have opportimity to 
work to the full extent of their ability. We 
know now that the welfare of the whole people 
is essential to the welfare of each. We know 
that the blind are not debarred from usefulness 
solely by their infirmity. Their idleness is 
fundamentally caused by conditions which press 
heavily upon all working people, and deprive 
hundreds of thousands of good men of a 

I recommend that all who are interested in 
the economic problem of the sightless study 
the economic problem of the seeing. Let 
us begin with such books as Mr. Robert Hun- 
ter's "Poverty," and E dmond Ke ll y's **Twen- 
fiVth Cgnt^iry SnTialisyn.^^ Let US read these 
books, not for "theory," as it is sometimes 
scornfully called, but for facts about the labour 
conditions of America. Mr. Kelly was a 
teacher of political economy, a lecturer on 


municipal govermnent at Columbia Univer- 
sity. Mr. Hunter has spent many years study- 
ing the American workman in his home and 
in the shop. The facts which they spread 
before us show that it is not physical blindness, 
but social blindness which cheats our hands of 
their right to toil. 


I am glad that this congress of doctors is 
going to give some time to the problem of 
the deaf, to the problem that must be solved, 
not by surgery, but by education. You have 
devoted yourselves nobly to the study of the 
organ of hearing and to the treatment of its 
diseases. But those whom you could not help, 
and who therefore ceased to be your patients — 
you have left them to the school-teacher. 
You have done splendid work in the laboratory 
and the consulting room; but you have not 
usually followed your patient into the school- 
room and into the paths of life where he is 
part of the human throng. You have not 
shown much interest in his efforts to imder- 
stand the speech of men and to make his 
own speech intelUgible. 

This gathering is an indication that your 

"* Address before the International Otological Congress, at the 
Harvard Medical School, August 16, 1912. 



interest will hencefortli embrace the deaf 
pupil and the deal citizen as well as the diseased 
ear, that you will cooperate with the teacher, 
that, in words of Dr. James Kerr Love, you 
will ''raise the deaf child to the rank of a 
patient." I am very grateful, to you, gentle- 
men. This is a new day in the education of 
the deaf — the day when the physician is no 
longer content to fight the hostile silences with 
medicine and surgical instruments alone, but 
helps the teacher to pour the blessed waters 
of speech into the desert of dumbness. 

The physician of olden times had no duty 
but to heal wounds and give medicine. It was 
his function to make sick people well. The 
modem physician is labouring to keep mankind 
well. He is a sanitary engineer, a sociologist, 
a constructive philanthropist. I am but urging 
you in the direction which your profession has 
already taken, when I ask you to look beyond 
the deaf ear to the deaf child, to the human 
being whose problem it is to recover, despite 
deafness, his golden birthright of spoken words. 
You will look behind the closed doors of sense 
and see the impatient spirit waiting to be set 


free. It will become your painful duty to tell 
tlie parents that their child will never hear. 
Resist the tendency — some physicians call it 
humane, I call it barbarous — of leaving the 
patient in hope of ultimate recovery when you 
know that it is impossible. I have heard of 
doctors who continued to prescribe useless 
remedies, such as electricity and osteopathy 
and even Christian Science, when they knew 
that there was no hope, simply because they 
had not the courage to tell the truth. Such 
kindness is expensive consolation. It would 
be much more to the point to prepare the 
unfortunate one for his fate, to help him 
arrange his life in anticipation of the changed 
conditions under which he must henceforth live. 
I was about six years old before any of the 
specialists whom my parents consulted was 
brave enough to tell them that I should never 
see or hear. It was Doctor Chisholm of Balti- 
more who told them my true condition. " But," 
said he, ^^she can be educated,'' and he advised 
my father to take me to Washington and con- 
sult Doctor Alexander Graham Bell as to the 
best method of having me taught. Doctor 


Chisholm did exactly the right thing. My 
father followed his advice at once, and within a 
month I had a teacher, and my education was 
begun. From that intelligent doctor's office I 
passed from darkness to light, from isolation to 
friendship, companionship, knowledge. The 
parent who brings his child to your office, to 
your hospitals, should find in you, not a teacher, 
perhaps, but one who understands how far it is 
possible to right the disaster of deafness. 

You should know about such work as that 
of my friend Mr. John D. Wright. "When you 
know about the work that he and his teachers 
are doing, you will not be satisfied imtil every 
deaf child within your knowledge receives oral 

How splendid it will be, what new courage 
we shall feel, if all aural surgeons henceforth 
use their influence to secure for every deaf 
child the opportunity to speak! The deaf and 
the teachers of the deaf need your help, and 
I am sure that you will help them in all the 
countries of the world from this day forth. 
Gentlemen, I thank you. 



I am glad that so many intelligent people 
are interested in helping the deaf to speak. 
You have asked me to come here and tell you 
how you can help in a work that is near to my 
heart. I am happy to stand before you, myself 
an example of what may be done to open dumb 
lips and liberate mute voices. I was dumb, 
now I speak. Intelligent instruction and the 
devotion of others wrought this miracle in me. 
What has been done for me can be done for 
others. You can all help the deaf child. You 
can help him by being interested in his struggle. 
You know now, if you have not known before, 
that he can learn to speak, and you can spread 
the knowledge that shall save him. 

What the world needs is enlightened under- 
standing on many subjects. There are plenty 
of brains and plenty of good-will in the world. 

*Addres8 before the German Sdentific Society of New York* 
April % 1918. 



AU that we need is to put them together. We 
must put thought and understanding into 
our efforts to help people. So much time and 
money are wasted every day because we do not 
get to the root of our difficulties! 

In the case of the deaf, physicians and parents 
often retard the development of deaf children 
because they do not realize the necessity of an 
early start. When the physician knows that 
the organ of hearing is permanently impaired, 
the child should be placed under the guidance 
of a skilful teacher, even while there may still 
be hope of improvement. Nothing can be 
lost by beginning his education at once. Should 
he be fortunate enough to recover his hearing 
later, in the meantime the years will have been 
well spent educationally. If lifelong deafness 
is his lot, he will have had the advantages of a 
prompt beginning. The psychological period 
for the acquisition of speech and language will 
not have been lost, and the difficulty of teaching 
him will be lessened, and the result will be far 
more satisfactory. 

Speech is the birthright of every child. It 
is the deaf child's one fair chance to keep in 


touch with his fellows. In many ways deafness 
is a greater disaster than blindness. Blind- 
ness robs the day of its light and makes us 
dependent and physically helpless. Deafness 
stops up the fountain-head of knowledge and 
turns life into a desert. For without language 
intellectual life is impossible. Try to imagine 
what it means to be deaf and dumb. Perpetual 
silence, silence full of longing to be understood, 
to speak, to hear the voices of our loved ones; 
silence that starves the mind, fetters the spirit 
and adds still another burden to labour. 

Deafness, like poverty, stunts and deadens 
its victims, until they do not realize the wretch- 
edness of their condition. They are incap- 
able of desiring improvement. God help them ! 
They grope, they stumble with their eyes wide 
open, they are indifferent. They miss every- 
thing in the world that makes life worth livmg, 
and yet they do not realize their own bondage. 
We must not wait for the deaf to ask for speech, 
or for the submerged of humanity to rise up 
and demand their liberties. We who see, we 
who hear, we who understand must help them, 
must give them the bread of knowledge, must 


teach them what their human inheritance is. 
Let every science do its part — medicine, 
surgery, otology, psychology, education, in- 
vention, economics, medianics. And while you 
are working for the deaf child, do not forget 
that his problem is only part of a greater 
problem, the problem of bettering the condition 
of all mankind. Let us here and now resolve 
that every deaf child shall have a chance to 
speak, and that every man shall have a fair 
opportunity to make the best of himself. Then 
shall we mend the broken lyre of human speech 
and lessen the deafness and blindness of the 



With my whole heart I join my deaf fellows 
in celebrating the two-himdredth anniversary 
of the birth of the Abbe de rEp6e. We 
celebrate not only his birthday, but also the 
soul-birthday of the deaf of France and of the 
entire world. As long as the memory of noble 
men remains upon earth, there shall be gladness 
because one was bom who, with discerning love 
saw the bitter need of the deaf, dropped words 
of peace into the silence of their empty lives, 
and was a light to their stumbling feet. 

I, too, was bom again. I, too, have escaped 
the dread silence into which no message of love, 
no song of bird, no happy laugh may enter. 
I, too, have found my way back to the world 
of men and women, and the gates of knowledge 
have been flung wide for me. I rejoice in my 
restorat ion to the goodness of life. 

* Letter to the Rems Oinirale de rEnseignemeiU des Sourds* 
Muds, October, 1912. 



How much more does it mean to me that 
thousands upon thousands of my deaf fellows 
have been taught, have been elevated to the 
lot of useful human beings! I am filled with 
tender gratitude to him who with his whole 
strength laboured that every deaf child might 
be educated and, despite his infirmity, become 
a happy worker in the world, adding his share 
to the conunon good. 

How many devoted men and women have 
strengthened their hands unto this beautiful 
work where but one struggling thinker once 
stood before the world, and preached to the 
incredulous the gospel of education for the deaf. 

1712-1912! What a change, what a trans- 
formation in the lot of the deaf, and in the 
methods of their instruction! Two hundred 
years ago they had no friend, no helper, no 
teacher, no school. Now, behold, they are 
being taught the wide world over from China 
to America and from the shores of the Indian 
Ocean to the far north. Behold the thousands 
who teach and learn, who labour with new 
methods, new devices, that they may find new 
roads to a richer life for the deaf. 


Before De rEp6e the cause of the deaf was no 
cause at all. To-day it is not only their cause, 
but a public cause to which many feel it a 
great honour to consecrate their lives. Truly 
this is a day of joy — the joy of the deaf who 
can speak, or who, if mute, yet weave sweet 
words of kinship between themselves and 
humanity, a joy in which the burden of silence 
and isolation is forgotten. This is a festival of 
glad memories, a celebration of all the years in 
which darkened minds have been filled with the 
light of knowledge. Only De TEp^e's own 
work can fittingly be offered as a token of re- 
membrance, a song of praise to our noble 

Let us then lift up our once mute voices and 
our once useless hands in witness to the endur- 
ing might of his example and his achievement. 
To-day we stand triumphant at the harvest 
of patient work. But we cannot celebrate 
the Abbe's birthday fittingly in one day. The 
true celebration»must be a work ever-increas- 
ing and more efficient, a work ever-progressive, 
not limited to ideas of the past. 

May all the deaf and their friends realize 


this. May they unite, animated by one idea — 
the betterment of the condition of the deaf. 
This is more important than any one's theories 
or methods of instruction. May this work be 
carried forward with unrelajdng vigour, until 
a day comes when no deaf child shall be left 
untaught, no deaf man or woman left unhelped. 



Swedenborg's works are full of stimulating 
f aithy of confidence in what the author declares 
he has seen, heard, and touched. We who are 
blind are often glad that another's eye finds 
a road for us in a wide, perplexing darkness. 
How much more should we rejoice when a man 
of vision discovers a way to the radiant outer 
lands of the spirit! To our conception of 
God, the Word, and the Hereafter which we 
have received on trust from ages of improved 
faith, Swedenborg gives a new actuality which 
is as startling, as thrilling as the angel-sung 
tidings of the Lord's birth. He brings fresh 
testimony to support our hope that the veil 
shall be drawn from imseeing eyes, that the 
dull ear shall be quickened, and dumb lips 
gladdened with speech. 

Here, and now, our misfortune is irrepar- 

*Introduction to a volume of Selections from Swedenborg, 
published in Braille at the Perkins Institution. 



able. Our service to others is limited. Our 
thirst for larger activity is unsatisfied. The 
greatest workers for the race — poets, artists, 
men of science — men with all their faculties, 
are at times shaken with a mighty cry of the 
soul, a longing more fully to body forth the 
energy, the fire, the richness of fancy and of hu- 
mane impulse which overburden them. What 
wonder, then, that we with our more limited 
senses and more humble powers should with 
a passionate desire crave wider range and scope 
of usefulness? Swedenborg says that "the 
perfection of man is the love of use,** or service 
to others. Our groping acts are mere stam- 
mering suggestions of the greatness of service 
that we intend. We will to do more than we 
ever can do, and it is what we will that is in 
very truth ourselves. The dearest of all 
the consolations which Swedenborg's message 
brings to me is that in the next world our narrow 
field of work shall grow limitlessly broad 
and luminous. There the higher self that we 
long to be shall find realization. 

Swedenborg, the man, was as lofty and noble 
as his work. He was one of those intellectual 


giants who astonish the world not of tener than 
once in a century with the vastness of their 
learning and their multitudinous activity. 
He was philosopher and theologian, and he was 
versed in the science of his time. He was a 
practical servant of the Swedish government, 
an inspector of mines, a metallurgist and 
engineer. The great mystic, then, was not a 
recluse, but an active man of the world. His 
life was serene, strong, gracious, moving with 
great ease under an incredible burden of work 
that would have broken the mental power of 
any ordinary man. Emerson says of him: "A 
colossal soul, he lies vast abroad on his times, 
uncomprehended by them, and requires a 
long focal distance to be seen." 

His theological teachings are in many long 
volumes. Yet his central doctrine is simple. 
It consists of three main ideas : God as divine 
love, God as divine wisdom, and God as power 
for use. These ideas come as waves from an 
ocean which floods every bay and harbour of 
life with new potency of will, of faith, and of 

Love is the all-important doctrine. This 

^ I 


love means not a vague, aimless emotion, but 
desire of good united with wisdom and fulfilled 
in right action. For a life in the dark this love 
is the surest guidance. 

The diflBiculties which blindness throws across 
our path are grievous. We encounter a thou- 
sand restraints, and like all human beings we 
seem at times to be accidents and whims of 
fate. The thwarting of our deep-rooted in- 
stincts makes us feel with special poignancy 
the limitations that beset mankind. Sweden- 
borg teaches us that love makes us free, and I 
can bear witness to its power of lifting us 
out of the isolation to which we seem to be 
condemned. When the idea of an active, all- 
controlling love lays hold of us, we become 
masters, creators of good, helpers of our kind. 
It is as if the dark had sent forth a star to draw 
us to Heaven. We discover in ourselves many 
undeveloped resources of will and thought. 
Checked, hampered, failing and failing again» 
we yet rise above the barriers that bound and 
confine us; our lives put on serenity and order* 
In love we find our release from the evils of 
physical and mental blindness. Our lack of 


sight forbids our hands to engage in many 
of the noblest human acts, but love is open to us, 
and as Swedenborg shows, love teaches us the 
highest of all arts — the art of living. From 
his writings we learn how to foster, direct, and 
practise this restoring love, this constructive, 
fertile faith, which is the yearning of man 
toward God. 


When I was a little girl I spent the Christmas 
holidays one year at the Perkins Institution 
for the Blind. Some of the children, whose 
homes were far away, or who had no homes, 
had remained at the school. I have never 
known a merrier Christmas than that. 

I hear some one ask: "What pleasure can 
Christmas hold for children who cannot see 
their gifts or the sparkling tree or the ruddy 
smile of Santa Claus?" The question would 
be answered if you had seen that Christmas of 
the blind children. The only real blind person 
at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas 
in his heart. We sightless children had the 
best of eyes that day in our hearts and in our 
finger-tips. We were glad from the child's 
necessity of being happy. The blind who 
have outgrown the child's perpetual joy can 
be child ren again on Christmas Day and cele- 

'*The Ladies^ Home Journal, December, 1906 



brate in the midst of them who pipe and 
dance and sing a new song! 

For ten days before the holiday I was never 
still a single moment. I would be one of the 
party that went Christmasing. I laid my 
hands on everything that offered itself in 
the shops, and insisted on buying whatever 
I touched, until my teacher's eyes could not 
follow my fingers. How she ever kept me 
within the bounds of the fitness of things, 
maintained the scale of values, and overtook 
the caprices of my fancy, is matter of amaze- 
ment. To the prettiest doll I would adhere a 
moment, then discover a still prettier one, and 
by decision the more perplex her and myself. 
At last the presents were selected and brought 

Next, a great Christmas tree, a cedar which 
towered above my head, was brought to the 
house where the children lived and planted in 
the middle of the parlour. Preparation kept 
us busy for a week. I helped to hang wreaths 
of holly in the windows and over pictures, 
and had my share in trimming the tree. I 
ascended and descended continually on the 


ladder to tie on little balls, apples, oranges, 
cornucopias, strings of popcorn and festoons 
of tinsel. Then we attached the little tapers 
which should set the tree aglow. Last came 
the gifts. As we placed one and then another, 
it became more and more difficult for my fingers 
to thread their way in and out between the 
candles, the dangling balls, and the swinging 
loops of com and tinsel, to find a secure posi- 
tion for the gifts. It seemed as if the green, 
sweet-scented branches must break with the 
burden of love-offerings heaped upon them, and 
soon the higher branches did begin to bend 
alarmingly with each heavier bundle, "like 
the cliff-swallow's nest, most like to fall when 

One of the last gifts I hung in the midst of 
the thick branches was a most unseasonable 
and incongruous exotic — a toy cocoanut palm 
with a monkey, which had movable limbs, and 
which at the pressure of a spring would run up 
and slide down with a tiny cocoanut upon his 
head. Behold the miracle of toyland, a palm 
grafted upon a cedar! What matters botany? 
When a little girl wants anything to happen 


at Christmas, it happens and she is con- 

Finally the tree was trimmed. Stars and 
crescents sparkled from branch to branch 
beneath my fingers, and farther up a large 
silver moon jostled the sun and stars. At 
the very top an angel with spread wings looked 
down on this wondrous, twinkling world — 
the child's Christmas world complete! But 
I think the stupendous view must have made 
him a little dizzy, for he kept turning slantwise 
and crosswise and anywise but the way a 
Christmas angel should float over a Christmas 

My teacher and the motherly lady who was 
matron in that house were children themselves; 
it really seemed as if there could not be a grave, 
experienced grown-up in the world. We ad- 
monished each other not to let fall a whisper of 
the mysteries that awaited the blind children, 
and for once I kept the whole matter at a 
higher value than a state secret. 

On Christmas Eve I went to bed early, only 
to hop up many times to rearrange some pack- 
age, to which I remembered I had not given 


the finishing touches, and to use all my powers 
of persuasion with the unruly angeU whom I 
invariably found in a reprehensible position. 

Long before any one else was downstairs on 
Christmas morning, I took my last touch- 
look at the tree, and lo ! the angel was correctly 
balanced, looking down in serene poise on the 
brilliant world below him, I suspected that 
Santa Claus had passed that way, and that 
under his discipline the angel, probably only 
a demi-angel, had been released from his 
sublunary infirmities. I turned to go, quite 
satisfied, when I discovered that Sadie's doll 
had shut her eyes on all the splendour that 
shone about her! "This will never do," I 
said — "sleeping at this time!" I poked her 
vigorously, until she winked, and finally, to 
show she was really awake, kicked Jupiter 
in the side, which disturbed the starry universe. 
But I had the planets in their orbits again 
before it was time for them to shine on the 

After a hurried breakfast the blind children 
were permitted to enter the parlour and pass 
their hands over the tree. They knew instantly. 


without eyes, what a marvellous tree it was, 
filled with the good smells of June, filled with 
the songs of birds that had southward flown, 
filled with fruit that at the slightest touch 
tumbled into their laps. I felt them shout, 
I felt them dance up and down, and we all 
crowded about and hugged each other in 

I distributed all the gifts myself and felt 
the gestures of delight as the children opened 
them. Very pretty gifts they were, well 
suited to sightless children. No disappoint- 
ing picture-books, or paint-boxes, or kalei- 
doscopes, or games that require the use of 
sight. But there were many toys wonderful 
to handle, dolls, both boys and girls, including 
a real baby doll with a bottle in its mouth; 
chairs, tables, sideboards, and china sets, pin- 
cushions and work-baskets, little cases con- 
taining self -threading needles that the blind can 
use, sweet-scented handkerchiefs, pretty things 
to wear, and dainty ornaments that render 
children fair to look upon. Blind children, 
who cannot see, love to make themselves 
pretty for others to see. 


There were animals, too, fierce lions and 
tigers, which proved that appearances are most 
deceptive, for when one took their heads oflf 
one foimd them full of sweet things. One girl 
had a bear that danced and growled whenever 
she woimd a key somewhere in the region of its 
neck. Another had a cow that mooed when 
she turned its head. 

The older children received books in raised 
print, not mournful, religious books, such as 
some good people see fit to choose for the 
sightless, but pleasant ones like "Undine," 
or Hawthorne's "Twice-Told Tales,*' or "The 
Story of Patsy," or "Alice in Wonderland." 
Fairy tales, novels, essays, books of travel and 
history, and ma^azmes well filled with news 
of the world and gossipy articles are thumbed 
by the blind until the raised letters are worn 
down. Books of gloomy, depressing character, 
and many that are full of dry wisdom and no 
doubt very good for our morals, are likely to 
repose on the top shelf until the dust takes 
possession of them. The blind are rendered 
by their very affliction keenly alive to what is 
joyous and diverting. Their books are nee- 


essarily few, and most of them ought to be 
deHghtf ul and entertaining. 

After we had touched our presents to our 
hearts' content we romped and frolicked as 
long as the little ones could go, and longer. 
If you had looked in on our unlagging merriment 
and had never seen blind children at play 
before, you might have been surprised that in 
our wildest gyrations we did not run into the 
tree, or knock over a chair, or fall into the fire 
that burned on the hearth. I think we must 
have looked like any other group of merry 
children. You would have learned that the 
way to make the blind happy at Christmas, and 
all the time, is to treat them as far as possible 
like other persons. They do not like to be 
continually reminded of their blindness, set 
aside and neglected, or even waited on too 

Had you been our guest you would have re- 
ceived a gift from the sightless, for they have 
one precious gift for the world. In their 
misfortune they are often happy, and in that 
they give an inspiring challenge to those who see. 
Shall any seeing man dare to be sad at Christmas 


or permit a little child to be other titan merry 
and light-hearted? What can excuse the see- 
ing from the duty and privilege of happiness 
while the blind child joins so merrily in the 

"Tiny Tim" was glad to be at church on 
Christmas because he thought the sight of him 
might remind folk who it was that gave the 
lame power to walk. Even so the blind may 
remind their seeing brethren who it was that 
opened the blinded eyes, unstopped the deaf 
c^ars, gave health to the sick» and knowledge 
to the ignorant, and declared that mightier 
things even than these shall be fulfilled. 
All the afficted who keep the blessed day com- 
pel the affectionate thought that He abides 
with us yet. 

The legend tells that when Jesus was bom 
the sun danced in the sky, the aged trees 
straightened themselves and put on leaves 
and sent forth the fragrance of blossoms 
once more. These are the symbols of what 
takes place in our hearts when the Christ- 
Child is bom anew each year. Blessed by 
the Christmas simshine, our natmres, perhaps 


long leafless, bring forth new love, new kind- 
ness, new mercy, new compassion. As the birth 
of Jesus was the beginning of the Christian life, 
so the unselfish joy at Christmas shall start 
the spirit that is to rule the new year. 



Hear, oh, hear! The Christmas bells are 
ringing peal upon peal, chime upon chime! 
Full and dear they ring, and the air quivers 
with joy. "What is the burden of their music 
as it floats far and wide? Awake! Awake! 
it says. A great Change is coming — peace 
upon earth, good-will to all men. 

Together the bells and I call aloud, and we 
are not afraid! Peace upon earth, good-will 
to all^men! Awake! Awake! We shall not 
rest again until good-will reigns, which is Gk)d's 
will done, nor shall we lie down imtil the voice 
of the angels is heard in all the circuits of the 
earth. We shall not slumber until light ariseth 
to all who sit in darkness, neither shall we sleep 
again until there is peace and gladness and con- 
tent in the hearts of men. For a Great Change 
is com ing, a wondrous Change, a World- 

**The Metropolitan Magasdne, January* 1918. 



change that shall fulfil all joy in a happy 

Ring the Great Change, O Bells! Hear, oh, 
hear, all people! Long and confident the 
Christmas bells are nnging. Above our houses 
and through our open doors their voices fly. 
And they say: Awake! Awake! The night 
of man's captivity is at an end, the dawn of 
peace between man and man hasteneth to 
come and it shall not tarry! 

The bells and I are strong with a new hope, 
vibrant with expectancy of this Great Change. 
Already men and women are working and 
thinking and living for this Great Change, 
and their efforts are mighty with the might of 
intelligence and good-will. For them the bells 
of a world-Christmas are ringing, and shall 
not cease with the brief hours of one glad day. 
Every day, every year, these men and women 
plan work, and dream, and their works are the 
heavenly message of the sweet-tongue bells! 

Hear, oh, hear the bells ! For ages the Christ, 
mas bells have rung their message of peace 
upon earth and good-will to aU men. For 
ages they have summoned a sleeping world to 


a new life, a new ideal, a new joy. But too 
often they have sounded in ears sealed with 
ignorance. Too often has their glad news 
passed unheeded: *^0 children of men, your 
happiness lies but your will away from you. 
Unite, love, serve all, and ye shall grasp it.'* 

Now, here and now, the bells and I will be 
heard ! Not once a year, but from morning to 
morning we will be heard singing exultant, 
sure of our message. Let the sun pour its 
flood of light upon the land, or let the whole 
sky be dark, we will send our song up and down 
and all around, our song of the Great Change. 
Too long have men turned their faces from their 
tasks, from the needs of the common day, and 
fixed their eyes upon a better life sometime, 
somewhere. Too long have they dreamed of 
a distant life, instead of bringing that life 
into their earthly days. The Great Change 
ushers a true religion into the world, now and 
here — service for all men equally, devotion 
of each to the good of all alike. 

Hear, oh, hear the Christmas bells as they 
greet the sim, the frost, the sailing cloud, the 
jroving wind! Are they not the bells of your 


childhood's dearest joy, the beDs of your 
brightest memories, the belb of your highest 
hope? Do they not voice your silent^ baffled 
wish that all things shall be made new, that 
there shall be no more cramped, darkened 
lives, no more cruel customs, no more misery 
which grinds the beauty, the sweetness out of 
the human soul? If this wish came true, would 
it not be Christmas indeed — Christmas for 
all men, Christmas all the year? 

Hear! To-day the bells and I call you to the 
Christmas of mankind. For it has begun, 
and we shall not falter nor turn back until 
every man and woman and child m this land 
and in every land has a chance to live happily 
and to develop his mind and do the best of 
which he is capable. Generation after genera- 
tion has learned from its mothers* Kps the 
story of the birth of Christ, and slowly the 
words have borne flowers — and the fruit is the 
Great Change. The Great Change is the new 
faith, the new effort to secure for every man his 
full share of the means, the comforts, the health, 
the knowledge, the virtue, which humanize 
life. As we lift up our voices, the bells and 


I, to sound the joy of Christmas, we call to 
you : Approach this new faith with open hearts. 
Let us follow it fearlessly, wherever it may lead 
us, even though it lead us far from old and 
cherished beliefs. Dear they are indeed and 
hard to part with; but this new faith is too 
appealing, too bound up with all that is deepest, 
most tender, most necessary in human ex- 
perience to be put aside. 

Hear, oh, hear the Christmas bells! How 
they answer one another from end to end of 
the country, peal upon peal, chime upon chime ! 
From every spire and tower they utter the 
good tidings of great joy, the tidings of the 
Great Change, the cry that no humane heart 
can resist: "Brotherhood! Brotherhood! 

Listen! Heed! For this is the harvest time 
of love. Souls are closer drawn to other souls* 
All that we have read and thought and hoped 
comes to fruition at this happy time. Our 
spirits are astir. We feel within us a strong 
desire to serve. A strange, subtle force, a new 
kindness, animates man and child. A new 
spirit is growing in us. No longer are we 


content to relieve pain, to sweeten sorrow, to 
give the crust of charity. We dare to give 
friendship, service, the equal loaf of bread, the 
love that knows no diflFerence of station. 

Hear, oh, hear the Christmas bells! Every- 
where, everywhere they remind the world : For- 
get not the poor, nor let the hope of the needy 

The bells and I sing and are glad for Christ- 
mas, the day of all those who labour and keep 
the world alive. For them we sing and we shall 
not be still. The bells and I sing the workers 
of the world, on the Day of Him who was a 
boy in the carpenter's shop. This is the 
spirit of Christm'a?, that they whose lives are 
useful, whose deeua are good should receive 
the gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 
Should they stop their labour for a season, 
the world would starve. The stars would look 
down upon a world of silent cities, upon a 
devastated earth. Punctual as the bells the 
workers come and go. In winter's cold and 
summer's heat they hasten to the work of the 
world. Nothing halts them — sickness, fatigue, 
grief nor death. The mills of the world turn 


hourly, daily. We can tell the minute of 
their coming and going to their tasks; day 
after day, month after month, year after year 
the procession of the workers passes our doors. 
Through thousands of years have they been 
faithful, and Christmas shall open our hearts 
and let us say that in their lives the whole 
world lives. 

Listen! Between the swelling peals of the 
Christmas bells] do you not hear the tramp 
of countless feet? Behold the workers have 
marched in the night toward the land of 
their hearts' desire. In the night of long 
ages they have heard the call of the Great 
Change and at length they have answered. 
Through darkness, through anguish and horror 
they have risen to the awful height of manhood. 
Century by century they have grown in power 
and intelligence. Forever and forever onward 
chime the bells! There has been no halting in 
the vast journey mankind has come. Nothing 
has been wasted, nothing has been lost. Every 
effort has counted. Every purpose, every 
pulse has fulfilled its task; incessantly men have 
moved onward to the dawn of the Great Change. 


Can you not see the wonders which the 
Christmas bells herald? Do they not sing to 
you of world-systems evolving and dissolving, 
conung and going like leaves upon the trees, 
like the human generations? And again they 
shall evolve into the Great Change. As 
the notes of the bells rise, blend, and melt 
away, so have the life-songs of old civiliza- 
tions swelled to the heavens, echo upon echo, 
and sunk into silence. Persia, Greece, and 
Rome have flourished and decayed. The 
civilization of Briton, Frenchman, German, 
American is passing, changmg into the broader, 
nobler ideals of the Great Change — liberty, 
equality, and brotherhood. 

Listen with your hearts. In a land but your 
will away from you, hear, oh, hear the Christmas 
bells ring, the winds blow, the rivers run, the 
earth break forth into flowers and the trees 
burst into leaf! Hear the birds singing and 
mating, and hear children freed from labour 
shouting in the streets, young men and maidens 
smiling and marrying, old people praising 
God that the Great Change has come in their 
day. "We have died to live again. We 


have suflfered that we may rejoice and be glad. 
What matters it — all upheavals, all revolu- 
tions, all systems sent to wreck, if the Great 
Change comes afterward?" 

Then ring all the bells on earth! 'Tis 
Christmas Day iA the morning of brotherhood. 
Ring man's great joy from pole to pole, from 
sea to sea! Tug with mighty arms at the bell 
rope that the sound may ring out full and far 
and long! Light the world's Christmas tree 
with stars. Heap offerings upon its mighty 
branches. Bring the Yule-log to the world- 
fireplace. Deck the world-house with holly 
and mistletoe and proclaim everywhere the 
Christmas of the human race! 









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